Child growth standards

The WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS)

The WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) was undertaken between 1997 and 2003 to generate new growth curves for assessing the growth and development of infants and young children around the world.

The MGRS collected primary growth data and related information from approximately 8500 children from widely different ethnic backgrounds and cultural settings (Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman and the USA).

The new growth curves are expected to provide a single international standard that represents the best description of physiological growth for all children from birth to five years of age and to establish the breastfed infant as the normative model for growth and development.

History of the MGRS

The 47th World Health Assembly, in May 1994, requested the Director-General,"To complete, in cooperation with selected research institutions, collection of revised reference data and the preparation of guidelines for their use and interpretation, so as to assess the growth of breast-fed infants".

An information document on the implementation of this resolution was distributed at the 105th session of the WHO Executive Board, November 1999.

Details on the study methodology have been published in a supplement of the Food and Nutrition Bulletin.

A documentary video of this study, "A growth curve for the 21st century" can be downloaded or viewed using the links below. The video is available in English, French and Spanish.

This video describes the approach taken to select the sample, the methodology, study organization and field logistics, and provides an overview of the implementation of the study in the six participating countries.

A copy of the video as DVD or VHS (in NTSC or PAL format) can also be ordered from the following address:

Dr Mercedes de Onis
World Health Organization
Department of Nutrition
1211 Geneva 27

Fax: +41 22 791 4156