What is Failure to Thrive?
Failure to Thrive is not a disease. There is no clear definition of Failure to Thrive. Doctors use the term “Failure to Thrive” when a child is not meeting their growth expectations, which can lead to detrimental effects on the child’s physical and mental development.
What Causes Failure to Thrive?
- Poor Nutritional Intake
Many children have difficulty eating food because of texture or taste. Other children are developmentally delayed and have poor oral skills. Your child may require a feeding evaluation and feeding therapy. Some children require vital stimulation therapy to help strengthen the muscles that are used for chewing and swallowing.
Keeping a food diary and tracking your child’s caloric intake for three consecutive days is often a very useful tool. Sometimes a child appears to be receiving adequate nutrition because they are constantly eating throughout the day, but after tracking the caloric intake, parents often find the child is not actually receiving enough calories to allow for proper growth.
- Inability to Absorb Adequate Nutrition
Conditions that cause vomiting and diarrhea in children can lead to Failure to Thrive. A child may be receiving adequate nutrition, but they may have malabsorption in the digestive system from various gastrointestinal conditions such as Celiac disease, food allergies, food intolerances, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
- Increased Nutritional Requirements
Some children require increased nutritional intake to have adequate growth. Conditions such as chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, chronic infections, metabolic disorders, and prematurity often require a higher consumption of calories in order to prevent Failure to Thrive.
How Is Failure to Thrive Diagnosed?
Your child’s doctor tracks the weight, height, and growth parameters at every visit. If adequate growth is not occurring, then your child’s doctor will want to further evaluate the situation. This may involve:
- Specific blood or urine test
- Nutrition evaluation
- Feeding evaluation
What is the Treatment for Failure to Thrive?
The treatment is ensuring that your child is receiving adequate nutritional intake as well as accounting for additional calories needed to catch-up growth. This may require:
- Special Diets
- Nutritional supplements
- Feeding tube
- Multidisciplinary feeding therapy programs
If you are worried that your child may have Failure to Thrive, speak to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
If you would like more information about Failure to Thrive or gastrointestinal (GI) digestive disorders and nutrition in children, please contact Dr. Mona Dave’s Plano Office or Southlake Office.