Size Matters: The History of Growth Charts in Pediatrics

Friday, Nov 6, 2015 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm

6 November 2015 (Friday), 1:00 p.m.

Aimee Medeiros, PhD (Assistant Professor of History and Health Sciences, Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine, UCSF)

Size Matters: The History of Growth Charts in Pediatrics

Abstract: In 1977, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted U.S.-originated growth charts in its effort to monitor children’s health. These charts served as standards in growth and development around the world for nearly thirty years even though the data they featured reflected only a small fraction of the global population. This presentation examines the making of these charts, the WHO’s preference for using American growth standards, and its decision to replace them, a process which began in the 1990s.  Consideration of the implications of these charts will also extend to pediatric care.  Today growth charts continue to serve as diagnostic tools in pediatrics.  This presentation will explore the impact these public health instruments have had in therapeutics and speculate on their future in pediatrics as health care moves beyond standardization and into an era of precision medicine. 

Location: History and Special Collections for the Sciences, located on the 4th floor of the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 12-077 Center for Health Sciences

Coffee and light refreshments will be available for attendees who confirm before 12:00 noon on Monday, November 2nd, when we place the catering order. (Please be advised that we require reservations because of university policy; we must submit a list of confirmed attendees when placing our catering order.)

Seating is limited; reservations are REQUIRED. Please RSVP to reserve if you plan on attending. There may not be seating available for drop-ins on the day of the forum.

Reservations may be made by contacting History & Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email:

This UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum (this is the 31st meeting of the series) is made possible by the History & Social Studies of Medicine Program, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections.