Growth Patterns of Children of Same Geographic Background Reared in Different Environments
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Objective: Growth charts are essential tools used to assess children's health status. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of environmental factors on the growth of children of a common geographic background. We constructed growth charts for children living in the East of Turkey and compared them with those for Turkish children living in other regions or countries. Methods: Growth data were obtained from 6 917 school children living in Eastern Turkey. The median values on smoothed percentile curves for the study subjects were compared with those for Turkish children living in the West of Turkey, in Western Europe and in Germany. Results: Children living in Turkey were lighter than their European peers at early ages. Weight curves of children living in the West of Turkey reached those of their European peers, after 11 years of age in boys and after 12 years of age in girls. At all ages, girls and boys in our region had the lowest weight values. Between 7 and 11 years of age, the median height in boys and girls were similar in the West of Turkey and in Europe. At older ages, median height was higher in Turkey. Girls and boys living in Eastern Turkey were the shortest children until 16 years of age; after that age, their height was similar to their peers. Conclusions: Weight may interact with environmental factors, but genetic potential appears to be the most important factor determining height at 17 years of age. Growth patterns of children should be evaluated using specific reference values for specific regions.