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. Kids 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.
Failure to Thrive is the term used for children who for some reason, do not gain weight corresponding to their age and nutrition. In severe cases height and head circumference may also be affected. In our country, most commonly affected children are between ages of 3 months and 5 years.
If the condition progresses, undernourished kids may:
- become disinterested in their surroundings
- avoid eye contact
- become irritable
- not reach developmental milestones like sitting up, walking, and talking at the usual age
What causes failure to thrive?
There could be many reasons. Perhaps your baby is simply not getting enough to eat. She may not be feeding for long enough or often enough, or you might be having trouble weaning her onto solid foods.
Common Causes of Failure to Thrive
When an apparently well child is unusually small for his age, one must consider the following factors.
2. Low Birth Weight - Growth in utero is some indication of his later growth potential. If a child was small at birth, particularly if small for dates, he is likely to be small even later. Conversely the larger he is at birth, the larger he is likely to be in later years.
3. Socio-economic factors - together with genetic factors and low birth weight explain the great majority of cases of slow physical growth. This fact should be considered before ordering detailed investigations.
4. Defective physical growth from previous diseases now cured
Some babies have a higher risk. For example, if your baby has a cleft lip or palate, feeding is probably more difficult for her than for other babies.
Many babies go through brief periods when their weight gain plateaus or they even lose a little weight. However, if a baby doesn't gain weight for 3 consecutive months during the first year of life, doctors usually become concerned.
Doctors diagnose failure to thrive by using standard growth charts to plot weight, length, and head circumference, which are measured at each well-baby exam. Children who fall below a certain weight range for their age or who are failing to gain weight at the expected rate will be evaluated further to determine if there's a problem.
Along with obtaining a thorough medical and feeding history and performing a detailed physical exam, the doctor may order a complete blood count, urine test, and various blood chemical and electrolyte tests to search for underlying medical problems. If a particular disease or disorder is suspected, the doctor might perform additional tests specific to that condition.
To determine whether a child is receiving enough food, the doctor (sometimes with the help of a dietitian) will do a calorie count after asking the parents what the child eats every day. And talking to the parents can help a doctor identify any problems at home, such as neglect, poverty, household stress, or feeding difficulties.
Children with failure to thrive need the help of their parents and a doctor. Sometimes, an entire medical team will work on the case.
In addition to the primary doctor, the team might include a nutritionist to evaluate the child's dietary needs, and an occupational or speech therapist to help the caregiver and child develop successful feeding behaviors and address any sucking or swallowing problems. Occupational and speech therapists are often helpful because of their expertise in the muscular control that's involved in eating.
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