Failure to thrive

Alternative Names

Growth failure; FTT

Definition of Failure to thrive

Failure to thrive is a description applied to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is significantly below that of other children of similar age and sex.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Infants or children that fail to thrive seem to be dramatically smaller or shorter than other children the same age. Teenagers may have or appear to lack the usual changes that occur at puberty. However, there is a wide variation in .

Symptoms

Infants or children who fail to thrive have a height, weight, and head circumference that do not match standard growth charts. The person’s weight falls lower than 3rd percentile (as outlined in standard growth charts) or 20% below the ideal weight for their height. Growing may have slowed or stopped after a previously established growth curve.

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and check the child’s height, weight, and body shape. A detailed history is taken, including prenatal, birth, neonatal, psychosocial, and family information.

Treatment

The treatment depends on the cause of the delayed growth and development. Delayed growth due to nutritional factors can be resolved by educating the parents to provide a well-balanced diet.

Expectations (prognosis)

If the period of failure to thrive has been short, and the cause is determined and can be corrected, normal growth and development will resume. If failure to thrive is prolonged, the effects may be long lasting, and normal growth and development may not be achieved.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc – 8/2/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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