Harmonizing national growth references for multi-centre surveys, drug monitoring and international postmarketing surveillance

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Abstract

Aim:

National European growth references differ. We aimed to convert (harmonize) currently used charts into a single unified interchangeable LMS format for each European nation.

Methods:

Nine currently used national European growth references from Belgium (2009), France (1979), Poland (2001), Sweden (2002), Switzerland (1989), the UK (1990), Italy (2006) and Germany (1979 and 1997) were harmonized and compared with the international WHO child growth standards and WHO growth reference data for 5–19 years.

Results:

European growth charts can be harmonized. The approach appears useful as height, and body mass index (BMI) is inappropriately represented by WHO references. European height references exhibit warping when plotted against the WHO reference. The French appears too short, the other Europeans too tall. Also, the BMI is not appropriately represented by the WHO references.

Conclusions:

Harmonizing references is a novel, convenient and cost-effective approach for converting historic and/or incomplete local or national growth reference charts into a unified interchangeable LMS format. Harmonizing facilitates producing growth references ‘on demand’, for limited regional purposes, for ethnically, socio-economically or politically defined minorities, but also for matching geographically different groups of children and adolescents for international growth and registry studies.

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