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Are Growth Charts appropriate for exclusively Breastfed Babies?

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Updated November 02, 2003

Question: Are Growth Charts appropriate for exclusively Breastfed Babies?
Answer: The 2000 CDC growth charts can be used to assess the growth of exclusively breast-fed infants, however when interpreting the growth pattern one must take into account that mode of infant feeding can influence infant growth. In general, exclusively breast-fed infants tend to gain weight more rapidly in the first 2 to 3 months. From 6 to 12 months breast-fed infants tend to weigh less than formula-fed infants.

The 2000 CDC Growth Chart reference population includes data for both formula-fed and breast-fed infants, proportional to the distribution of breast- and formula-fed infants in the population. During the past two decades, approximately one-half of all infants in the United States received some breast milk and approximately one-third were breast-fed for 3 months or more. A Working Group of the World Health Organization is collecting data at seven international study centers to develop a new set of international growth charts for infants and preschoolers through age 5 years. These charts will be based on the growth of exclusively or predominantly breast-fed children.

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