Posts Tagged failure to thrive in infants

Failure to Thrive

Posted by on Saturday, 17 April, 2010

In the first few years of life is a time when most children begin to gain weight and grow much more rapidly than later on in childhood. Sometimes, however, children and infants don’t meet expected standards of growth. Although most of these children follow growth patterns that vary from the norm standards, others are considered to have “failure to thrive.” This is a general diagnosis, with many possible causes. Common to all cases however, is the failure to gain sufficient weight as expected, which is often accompanied by poor height growth. Diagnosing and treating a child who fails to thrive focuses on identifying any underlying problem. From there, doctors and the family work together to get the child back into a healthy growth pattern.


Although it’s been recognized for more than a century, failure to thrive lacks a precise definition, in part because it describes a condition rather than a specific disease. Children who fail to thrive don’t receive or are unable to take in, retain, or utilize the calories needed to gain weight and grow as expected.

Most diagnoses of failure to thrive are made in infants and toddlers in the first few years of life, a crucial period for physical and mental development. After birth, a child’s brain grows as much in the first year as it will grow during the rest of the child’s life. poor nutrition during this period can have permanent effects on a child’s mental development. Typically the average term baby will double his or her birth weight by 4-months old and triples it at the 1-year mark, children with failure to thrive often don’t meet those milestones. Sometimes, a child who starts out “plump” and who shows signs of growing well can begin to fall off in weight plan. After a while, linear (height) growth may slow as well.

If the conditions progresses, the undernourished child may:

  • Become disinterested in his or her surroundings
  • Tend to avoid eye contact
  • Become irritable
  • Don’t reach developmental milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking and talking at the usual age.

Failure to thrive can result from a wide variety of underlying causes, to find out more about failure to thrive, I recommend purchasing my training manual, where I have a in depth chapter on the causes and treatment for this medical condition, along with many other interesting topics regarding medically fragile children.