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Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2007 Mar; 36(2):203-6.OBJECTIVE: To compare children's growth patterns and estimates of malnutrition using the WHO standards versus the NCHS reference in China. METHODS: Data originated from China children nutrition surveillance in 2005, Z-scores and prevalence of malnutrition were compared between standards. RESULTS: There was substantial difference in Z-scores between standards in rural (P < 0.0001). According to the WHO standards, prevalence of underweight in rural was lower than that of underweight based on the NCHS reference (6.1% . vs. 8.6%, P < 0.0001). Except for children under 6 months, all age groups underweight rates were lower according to the WHO standards. Prevalence of stunting in rural was higher based on the WHO standards (16.3% . vs. 13.0%, P < 0.0001), prevalences of stunting under 6 months were 2.1 times of that based on NCHS reference. As for wasting, there were no differences between standards, but wasting was substantially higher during the first half of infancy. Overweight rates based on the WHO standards were higher than those based on NCHS reference in urban (6.7% . vs. 5.4%, P < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: In comparison with NCHS reference, population estimates of malnutrition would vary by age, growth indicator based on WHO standards. The WHO standards could provide a better tool to monitor the rapid and changing rate of growth in early infancy, further analysis on existing data was needed.