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Parents Have Size, Growth Expectations for Their Infants

Parents use reference points as norms, worry when variations from norms are unexplained

FRIDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Parents consider contextual factors for determining what is a healthy size and rate of growth for their infants, according to a report in the February issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Patricia Lucas, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the U.K., and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand lay views, particularly of the parents, about the importance of infant size and growth. The investigators identified 19 studies, most of which reported the views of mothers, that provided answers to questions like "What is healthy size and growth?" and "How important are size and growth to participants?"

The researchers found that "notions of healthy size and growth were dominated by the concept of normality." Participants created reference points for normal size and growth, and worried when no plausible explanation could be identified for infants falling outside these normal values.

"Concealed beneath [the growth chart's] neat lines and smooth curves exist layers of hidden meaning, not at all decipherable even by professionals," Charlotte Wright, M.D., of Glasgow University in Scotland, and a colleague write in an accompanying editorial. "Discordance between image and reality may not be confined to parents and public; maybe there is a case for a systematic review of professional views about infant size and growth?"

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