Failure-to-thrive is when a child is not growing as expected. It does not include children who are small for their age. The exact definition is not completely agreed upon.
Children grow quickly in the first few years of life. A child with failure-to-thrive will have a height and weight that is well below other children of their age. Your child may have also had a normal growth pattern that began to slow down. Initially the child has similar height and weight than their peers but at follow-up appointments the child's height and weight does not keep up with their peers.
In general, failure-to-thrive means that a child:
Failure-to-thrive is split into several types according to the cause. Types include:
Mucus Blockage in Lungs and Pancreas Due to Cystic Fibrosis-Contributes to Failure to Thrive
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Factors that may increase your child's risk of failure-to-thrive include:
Failure-to-thrive is diagnosed based on following a child's growth. The doctor will plot your child's weight, height, and head circumference on standard growth charts. If the child falls below a certain weight range or drops two percentiles on the growth chart, the doctor will evaluate the child further.
If a medical condition may be the cause, the doctor will order further tests. The type of tests will depend on the condition.
Sometimes, a child must be hospitalized for a period of time to find the cause of failure-to-thrive. During this time the doctor will:
If the child can gain weight under these circumstances, this supports the diagnosis of nonorganic failure-to-thrive.
Treatment may include:
Treating the underlying medical condition may correct failure-to-thrive.
Children who are malnourished may need liquid supplements. They can help to boost their weight and nutrition.
When a child is hospitalized for diagnosis, the hospital staff can also provide treatment. Nurses can teach parents appropriate feeding techniques. They may also show how to best interact with their child. If the child isn't hospitalized, parents can still have training sessions with a nutritionist or a nurse.
Parents and children who are having difficulty with their relationship may benefit from counseling.
To help prevent failure to thrive:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health
Alberta Health and Wellness
Failure to thrive. Children's Hospital Colorado website. Available at http://www.childrenscolorado.org/wellness/info/parents/22982.aspx . Accessed August 13, 2012.
Failure to thrive: parental neglect or well-meaning ignorance. Am Fam Physician . 2001;63(9). Available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010501/curbside.html.
Krugman S, Dubowitz H. Failure to thrive. Am Fam Physician . 2003 Sep 1;68(5):879-884. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0901/p879.html . Accessed August 7, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael Woods
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×