Design and other methodological considerations for the construction of human fetal and neonatal size and growth charts.
Ohuma EO., Altman DG.
This paper discusses the features of study design and methodological considerations for constructing reference centile charts for attained size, growth, and velocity charts with a focus on human growth charts used during pregnancy. Recent systematic reviews of pregnancy dating, fetal size, and newborn size charts showed that many studies aimed at constructing charts are still conducted poorly. Important design features such as inclusion and exclusion criteria, ultrasound quality control measures, sample size determination, anthropometric evaluation, gestational age estimation, assessment of outliers, and chart presentation are seldom well addressed, considered, or reported. Many of these charts are in clinical use today and directly affect the identification of at-risk newborns that require treatment and nutritional strategies. This paper therefore reiterates some of the concepts previously identified as important for growth studies, focusing on considerations and concepts related to study design, sample size, and methodological considerations with an aim of obtaining valid reference or standard centile charts. We discuss some of the key issues and provide more details and practical examples based on our experiences from the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. We discuss the statistical methodology and analyses for cross-sectional studies and longitudinal studies in a separate article in this issue.