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Failure to thrive (FTT) or poor weight gain refers to a condition in which an infant or child does not gain weight at the expected standard of growth. Failure to thrive is not a disease, but rather a sign that a child is undernourished. Failure to thrive is usually the result of one of three main categories:
Failure To Thrive (FTT), or poor weight gain
Because failure to thrive typically occurs in infants and toddlers, it is important to address quickly, as this is a crucial time in brain development. Poor or inadequate nutrition can have permanent negative effects if not corrected. Regularly scheduled well-check appointments with your doctor are the first line of defense against failure to thrive.
Failure to thrive can occur if a child is unable to utilize the nutrition being given. Health conditions that can prevent a child from gaining weight include:
Inadequate nutritional intake is the most common reason for failure to thrive. Parents can sometimes mistakenly give too little food if concerned with weight or if the baby is a fussy eater. Depending on the age of the child, failure to thrive can be a result of:
Excessive caloric expenditure is generally a concern for children who have a history of:
Some infections force the body to use nutrients more quickly while decreasing appetite. Other conditions cause a natural excessive expenditure of calories, making it difficult for the child to keep up with the required calorie intake. Most cases of failure to thrive caused by excessive caloric expenditure develop within the first 2 months after birth.
In order to diagnose failure to thrive, a parent should keep a log of measurements of their child’s body. This log should include accurate information about the child’s:
over a period of time. This account may aid your doctor in diagnosing failure to thrive in a child.
While some children may have other factors contributing to low weight, such as small parents, or premature birth, any child who meets the failure to thrive criteria should be monitored closely. If an underlying medical problem is suspected, your doctor may order other diagnostic tests.
Treating failure to thrive may vary from case to case. Treatment may involve a regiment of nutritional counseling for catch-up growth. Some treatment possibilities may include:
In severe cases, a child may require a nighttime feeding tube to administer liquid nutrients, or sometimes, hospitalization. The large goal of treatment is to provide nutrition for the child to promote long-term growth and development while providing parental support in any forms necessary.
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