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James Mourilyan Tanner

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 29 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5374

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Paediatrician who formulated scales for child growth and development

Jim Tanner, former professor of child growth and development at Great Ormond Street Hospital, invented the eponymous scale that measures growth and development in childhood and adolescence. His broad academic interests were where growth, education, health, government policy, and socioeconomic theory overlap. His charts adorn the walls of general practices and school health clinics around the world. Similarly, he formulated the stages that define puberty. He was among the first to treat growth retarded children with human growth hormone, and he wrote influential and widely cited books on growth. “Over a career that spanned half a century Dr Tanner helped bring the study of human growth into the era of modern biology,” said the New York Times in 2005 (“With his bells and curves, human growth science grew up,”, 1 Mar 2005).

Before Tanner, child growth charts were of a “one size fits all” nature. Tanner’s charts, made with colleagues at the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, took account of the variations in a child’s speed of growth. They allow paediatricians and school health clinics to chart a …

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