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, 57 (6), 287-91

Failure to Thrive in Babies and Toddlers


Failure to Thrive in Babies and Toddlers

Lay Hoon Goh et al. Singapore Med J.


Failure to thrive in a child is defined as 'lack of expected normal physical growth' or 'failure to gain weight'. Diagnosis requires repeated growth measurements over time using local, age-appropriate growth centile charts. Premature babies with appropriate growth velocity and children with 'catch-down' growth, constitutional growth delay or familial short stature show normal growth variants, and usually do not require further evaluation. In Singapore, the most common cause of failure to thrive in children is malnutrition secondary to psychosocial and caregiver factors. 'Picky eating' is common in the local setting and best managed with an authoritative feeding style from caregivers. Other causes are malabsorption and existing congenital or chronic medical conditions. Child neglect or abuse should always be ruled out. Iron deficiency is the most common complication. The family doctor plays a pivotal role in early detection, timely treatment, appropriate referrals and close monitoring of 'catch-up' growth in these children.

Keywords: constitutional growth delay; familial short stature; fussy eater; malnutrition.

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