Friday, February 7, 2014

The size of my children

I've heard that people nowadays are much taller and heavier than they ever have been before. The fact we're taller than our ancestors was once made painfully aware to me when I bumped my head walking through the doorway of an old Italian church. And as for heavier, in all my study of Twentieth Century history I've never come across evidence of policy-makers wringing their hands about an 'obesity epidemic' in the 1940s.

Modern Motherhood is very matter of fact about how some children will be larger than others. "No reasonable person," it writes, "would expect the growth of a Shetland Pony to be the same as that of a Clydesdale." Nice. The question is: are my children Clydesdales compared to the Baby-Boomer Shetland Ponies? 

A weight chart in Modern Motherhood compiled from the records of 9,000 infants allows me to at least compare my son to the kids of 1945:

Birth: At 7.6 pounds, he was bang on average by 2014 standards. I was surprised to see that would still have been the case, more or less, in 1945. My daughter, who was slightly below average birth weight, would also have been in a similar place in the 1945 chart. Now I can stop feeling guilty about all of the fatty foods I ate while pregnant that probably didn't even exist then. Hurrah!

Eight weeks: Master two was 10 lbs/6 kg at eight weeks, putting him somewhere near the 85th percentile. Again, this didn't seem too different than in 1945. 

Seven months: By seven months my son was much bigger than many of his peers, and weighed in at the 91st percentile according to his charts. This is where the difference really shows: had he weighed the same in 1945, he would have been off the chart by a full lb. 

Eleven months: The difference by eleven months has reduced, though. By this age my son - still on the 91st percentile, is at least back on the chart in the 1945 graph. Although, he is scraping the top of it, close to the 100th percentile. So he may be a Clydesdale that's on the heavy side now, but would have been an even heavier Clydesdale in 1945. 

These results surprised me a little as I'd expected my son to weigh far above the 1945 averages, and didn't expect that his growth between eight weeks and seven months to be so inconsistent with the 1945 graph*. I'd love to see a chart that went past 12 months, simply to track at what point in their growth do the kids of today outstrip those of the 1940s?

*I also hope that I haven't actually made a gross statistical error at some point, hence the random outlying 7-month old weight. I have double-checked it, but still ... 

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