New Reference Curves for Head Circumference at Birth, by Gestational Age
BACKGROUND: The measurement of head circumference (HC) at birth reflects intrauterine brain development. HC charts currently used in Canada are either dated, mixed-gender, nonrepresentative of lower gestational ages (GAs), or reflective of other populations.
METHODS: To create both birth weight and HC curves, we combined weight and HC data from the Canadian Neonatal Network (CNN) database (admissions in NICUs across Canada) with McGill’s Obstetrical Neonatal Database (MOND; all births at a tertiary hospital in Montreal, Canada). We included CNN data for GAs of 23 to 34 weeks (2003–2007) and MOND data for GAs of 35 to 41 weeks (1995–2006). Nonsingletons, congenital anomalies, and measurements greater than ±4 SD from the mean were excluded. Distributions of birth weight and HC at each GA were statistically (penalized spline regression) smoothed. Birth weight curves were compared with recent Canadian reference curves and HC curves with historical and/or frequently used curves.
RESULTS: We included 39 896 births (3121 births at <30 weeks’ GA) to generate the curves. Current weight curves were similar to Canadian reference charts for both genders. Weight and HC measurements in boys were higher than in girls. When classified according to recent international references, the proportion of CNN-MOND infants at ≥32 weeks’ GA with HCs <10th percentile was significantly underestimated. When classified according to historical reference curves, a significant number of CNN-MOND infants of all GAs with HCs <10th and >90th percentiles were misclassified.
CONCLUSIONS: We developed recent gender-specific reference curves for HC at birth for singletons at 23 to 41 completed weeks’ GA, which included a large number of very premature infants, reflecting the current geotemporal Canadian population.
- growth charts
- fetal growth
- preterm birth
- birth weight
- head circumference
- reference curves
- brain growth
- AHC —
- appropriate head circumference
- CNN —
- Canadian Neonatal Network database
- GA —
- gestational age (completed weeks)
- HC —
- head circumference
- LHC —
- large head circumference
- MOND —
- McGill Obstetric and Neonatal Database
- SHC —
- small head circumference
- Accepted December 12, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics