Failure to thrive

Am Fam Physician. 2003 Sep 1;68(5):879-84.

Abstract

Failure to thrive is a condition commonly seen by primary care physicians. Prompt diagnosis and intervention are important for preventing malnutrition and developmental sequelae. Medical and social factors often contribute to failure to thrive. Either extreme of parental attention (neglect or hypervigilance) can lead to failure to thrive. About 25 percent of normal infants will shift to a lower growth percentile in the first two years of life and then follow that percentile; this should not be diagnosed as failure to thrive. Infants with Down syndrome, intrauterine growth retardation, or premature birth follow different growth patterns than normal infants. Many infants with failure to thrive are not identified unless careful attention is paid to plotting growth parameters at routine checkups. A thorough history is the best guide to establishing the etiology of the failure to thrive and directing further evaluation and management. All children with failure to thrive need additional calories for catch-up growth (typically 150 percent of the caloric requirement for their expected, not actual, weight). Few need laboratory evaluation. Hospitalization is rarely required and is indicated only for severe failure to thrive and for those whose safety is a concern. A multidisciplinary approach is recommended when failure to thrive persists despite intervention or when it is severe.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diet Records
  • Energy Intake*
  • Failure to Thrive / diagnosis*
  • Failure to Thrive / diet therapy
  • Failure to Thrive / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Stress, Psychological