Failure to thrive (FTT) is slow physical development in a baby or child. It’s caused by a baby or child not having enough nutrition.
Failure to thrive has many possible causes. In some cases, more than one thing may cause it.
A baby or child may not be taking in enough nutrients and calories. This can occur if a baby or child:
A baby or child may take in enough food, but not be able to absorb enough nutrients and calories. This can occur if a child has a problem such as:
A baby or child with an ongoing (chronic) health condition may also need more calories and nutrients than normal. This may be the case with congenital heart disease or a genetic syndrome.
In some cases, a family may not have enough support or understanding of what a baby needs. Or they may not provide the right kinds or amounts of food. In severe cases, neglect or abuse may lead to FTT if food is kept from a baby on purpose.
A child is more at risk for FTT if he or she is in a family that has problems with poverty, high stress, or parental coping skills.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each baby or child. They can include:
The symptoms of failure to thrive can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Failure to thrive is usually diagnosed by a healthcare provider. Babies are weighed and measured by a healthcare provider during routine checkups. The provider will give your child a physical exam. The exam will include checking the baby's growth, development, and functioning.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. And it depends on the cause.
Your child may need to see more than one healthcare provider, such as:
The healthcare providers will work with the family to find the cause of FTT, and help the child get more nutrition.
A child with FTT is at risk for problems such as:
The problem can be prevented by seeking early help with a child’s nutritional needs.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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