Child Development: Annette and Bryn

Child Development: Annette and Bryn
Is your child gifted or behind the curve?

Annette's daughter, Shanley, is 8 1/2 months old and falls in the 25th percentile on the growth chart, which means that 75 percent of children weigh more than her. Annette is also worried because Shanley is not doing the things she "should" be doing for her age. "All the percentiles, what she's doing by when, really made me question my ability to be a mom," she says.


On the other end of the spectrum is Bryn, who's daughter, Kelby, was born well above the 95th percentile. "Now, at 3 1/2, she's wearing a size six to eight, she's over 50 pounds and she's 42 inches tall," Bryn explains. With doctors estimating that Kelby could be 6'2" to 6'4", Bryn is concerned that Kelby will stand out and look much older than she is. She asks, "Dr. Phil, please help me develop a strategy to support and protect my Kelby."

Dr. Phil invites Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned expert on children's health, to the show. He explains the growth charts:

"A doctor tries to do the best job possible when a parent comes in and says, 'Is my child OK?' And we have different ways of figuring that out. We'll check blood pressure, for example, and see if the blood pressure is too high or too low. And weighing and measuring height is the same thing. If the child fits in these curves you're talking about, that's a sign that the child is growing in a good way, that they're healthy. And if they are growing outside these curves, it doesn't mean that they're not healthy at all, but it is a red flag to follow up, to maybe ask some extra questions to make sure the growth is normal," says Dr. Karp.


He responds to Bryn's concerns about Kelby being bigger than her classmates and not fitting in. "She may be tall now and big now, but that doesn't mean she will end up quite that big ... You can't just predict where she is now and where she's going to be later on. There's a lot of time between now and then," says Dr. Karp.

Annette explains that her child is the opposite. "She's a little girl with a big appetite. She's almost on a newborn schedule, she eats so much. It's just hard for her to get the weight on. She struggles to keep it at the 25th percentile ... So it worries me. Am I not doing something to help her along?" asks Annette.

Dr. Karp explains, "As a pediatrician, you don't just look at where a child is at any one point on the curve. You look at how they are growing over time. For example, if your child is at the 25th percentile, and the last visit they were at the 50th percentile, and the last visit they were at the 90th percentile, they're cutting across the curve, and that would be a red flag for me. But, on the other hand, if they're at the 25th the whole time, that's probably the growth pattern that she's going to establish. She's probably going to be a little bit more petite."

"And that doesn't mean there are bad things in the future necessarily. That's just where you are," adds Dr. Phil. "Somebody's got to be at the 25th percentile, or there wouldn't be one."

"That's true," says Dr. Karp.