BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
No previous study has provided a detailed description of regional variations of growth within the various regions of Saudi Arabia. Thus, we sought to demonstrate differences in growth of children and adolescents in different regions.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS:
The 2005 Saudi reference was based on a cross-sectional representative sample of the Saudi population of healthy children and adolescents from birth to 18 years of age. Body measurements of the length, stature, weight, head circumference and calculation of the BMI were performed according to standard recommendations. Percentile construction and smoothing were performed using the LMS (lambda, mu and sigma) methodology, followed by transformation of all individual measurements into standard deviation scores. Factors such as weight for age, height for age, weight for height, and head circumference for children from birth to 3 years, stature for age, head circumference and body mass index for children between 2-18 years of age were assessed. Subsequently, variations in growth between the three main regions in the north, southwest, and center of Saudi Arabia were calculated, with the Bonferroni: method used to assess the significance of differences between regions.
There were significant differences in growth between regions that varied according to age, gender, growth parameter and region. The highest variation was found between children and adolescents of the southwestern region and those of the other two regions The regression lines for all growth parameters in children <3 years of age were significantly different from one region to another reaching – 0.65 standard deviation scores for the southwestern regions (P=.001). However, the difference between the northern and central regions were not significant for the head circumference and for weight for length. For older children and adolescents a significant difference was found in all parameters except between the northern and central regions in BMI in girls and head circumference in boys. Finally, the difference in head circumference of girls between southwestern and northern regions was not significant. Such variation affected all growth parameters for both boys and girls.
Regional variations in growth need to be taken into consideration when assessing the growth of Saudi children and adolescents.