Technical note: Comparison of the maresh reference data with the who international standard for normal growth in healthy children



The Maresh reference data on stature and long bone lengths in a sample of healthy middle-class children from Denver, Colorado [Maresh: Am J Dis Child 66 (1943) 227–257; Maresh: Am J Dis Child 89 (1955) 725–742; Maresh: Human growth and development (1970) p 155–200], have been used extensively by biological anthropologists to estimate juvenile age and body size using skeletal elements and to assess growth in skeletal series from different ethnic populations or archaeological cultural groups. How well these data reflect the potentially diverse growth patterns of healthy human populations from different geographic areas is unknown. Similarly, the efficacy of using the Maresh reference data to estimate stunting prevalence in prehistoric populations is unknown. This report presents the results from a comparison of the Maresh data on supine length and standing height to the World Health Organization (WHO) international child growth standard. The WHO growth standard is meant to depict typical human growth under optimal conditions and can be used to assess children worldwide, regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The results from this comparison indicate that although the Maresh reference data generally conform to the WHO standard, reflecting a normal human growth pattern, and therefore serve as a suitable reference for comparative studies of growth patterns, these reference data are not suitable for estimating stunting prevalence. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.