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Falling weight Z-scores in the postnatal period need careful interpretation
  1. Anthony Lander
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anthony Lander, Department of Surgery, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham B4 6NH, UK; tony.lander{at}

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The weight Z-score is a useful concept when studying the nutrition and growth of individuals. The weight Z-score is the number of standard deviations by which a weight differs from the mean at a specific age. A Z-score of –1 is a weight on the –1 SD line (≈16th centile). A ΔZ-score indicates the change in the Z-score over a time interval. A negative ΔZ-score accompanies an individual who is ‘falling off their centiles’ even if gaining weight slowly. The Z-score can be estimated from a centile chart, calculated from the mean and SD or looked up in a table. If the population data are skewed, then complex modelling can been applied, as seen in the WHO charts, but the arguments outlined here still stand. Observant researchers will have noticed this asymmetry in …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.