MedUni Vienna: New "wachstum.at" portal assists assessment of children's physical development

Experts make software available for use on the Internet

A new software program compares the physical data of children and adolescents with up-to-date Austrian and international data, showing parents and doctors, at a glance, whether the data are within the reference range for the age group or not. This is a medical product, jointly developed by the Austrian Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and the Medical University of Vienna, and can be freely accessed and used on the Internet at: www.wachstum.at [Wachstum = Growth] This is the first standardised Austria-wide tool for assessing children's physical development data.

The website, developed under the project management of the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Vienna) in collaboration with the working group on Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology (APEDÖ) of the Austrian Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (ÖGKJ) provides doctors and parents with appropriate comparative data from healthy children and adolescents, to help them assess whether young people are thriving. 
The so-called "WHO standards" from the World Health Organization are used for babies and young children up to the age of four. The term "standard" refers to the expected statistical "normal range" for the progression of height and weight/BMI under ideal dietary, social and environmental conditions. The Austrian data for use in the 4 – 19 age group come from a large-scale Austria-wide study, in which the height and weight of more than 14,000 children and adolescents from primary and secondary schools were measured and analysed using up-to-date statistical techniques.

Results in percentiles

In practice, percentile curves, based on data from large-scale comparative collectives, are used for assessing height and weight. Giving a child's height or weight in percentiles means that these values have been compared against data for children in the same age-group. So, for example, if the height of a 12-month-old child lies in the 10th percentile, this means that 90% of the children of the same age and gender are taller and 10% are shorter.

"This software does not provide any medical diagnoses but is an aid and useful guide," explains project leader Gabriele Häusler from MedUni Vienna’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. "It is important to observe growth over time – a single isolated value does not really tell you very much. If parents are concerned, they should take the documented data to a paediatrician. If necessary, he/she can then order further medical tests."

The "wachstum.at" portal was designed by MedUni Vienna in collaboration with the working group on Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology (APEDÖ) of the Austrian Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (ÖGKJ) and by an Austrian company specialising in medical software, Adliance GmbH, and converted into a medical product. The software was presented at the Meeting of the APEDÖ of the ÖGKJ in Salzburg at the end of May 2019.