The National Center for Health Statistics growth reference, recommended by the World Health Organization for international use since the late 1970s, has served many useful purposes. Among the most important are the provision of a single set of growth references for the assessment of the general nutritional status of populations of children in diverse settings, as an ancillary tool to screen children for health and nutrition disorders, and as a basis for educational materials that promote improved child care by families. However, because of serious drawbacks due to the origin and type of data used for their construction and the analytical methods applied in their derivation, the suitability of these curves for international purposes has been challenged recently.

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