Failure to Thrive

While infants, children and adolescents all grow at different rates, it is important they continue to grow during various stages of childhood. Sometimes the child may not grow as expected. If you are concerned, among the first things to do is to bring your concerns to the attention of your child's healthcare provider. You should review the growth chart with the provider and this will provide objective evidence regarding your child's growth.

The reasons for a child's lack of weight gain may be divided into:

  1. Inadequate intake of calories
  2. Excessive losses such as vomiting or diarrhea
  3. Diseases of the GI tract that affect absorption of food
  4. Conditions elsewhere in the body that require extra calories or lead to impaired normal growth such as cystic fibrosis, infections, cancer, hormonal problems, cerebral palsy, etc.

The testing and evaluation your healthcare provider will recommend will depend on the history and symptoms you provide, the growth chart pattern and physical exam. The provider may ask for a four-day diet record, refer you to a dietitian, order blood tests and perform additional tests such as X-ray studies and endoscopies.

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