Background: Previous studies suggest that failure to thrive in infancy may be associated with adverse sequelae in childhood. Although cognitive abilities have been extensively investigated, little systematic research is available on other aspects of development.
Methods: Eighty-nine children who failed to thrive as infants and 91 controls were followed up when twelve years old and examined using anthropometric measurement, self-ratings of appetite and body image, the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, the Self-perception Profile for Children, The Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, the parent and child form of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire and the parent and teacher's form of the Child Behavior Checklist.
Results: The children who failed to thrive were significantly shorter and lighter at twelve and had significantly lower BMIs, but they did not go into puberty any later. They were more likely to rate their appetite as lower than their best friend's, were generally more satisfied with their body shape, and had significantly lower restraint score on the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. They were not significantly different from controls on any of the measures reflecting anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
Conclusions: Failure to thrive in infancy is not associated with adverse emotional development in childhood.