BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuFailure to thriveGrowth failure; FTT; Feeding disorder; Poor feedingFailure to thrive refers to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is much lower than that of other children of similar age and sex. Causes Failure to thrive may be caused by medical problems or factors in the child's environment, such as abuse or neglect.There are many medical causes of failure to thrive. These include:Problems with genes, such as Down syndrome Down syndromeDown syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Organ problems Hormone problems Damage to the brain or central nervous system, which may cause feeding difficulties in an infant Heart or lung problems, which can affect how nutrients move through the body Anemia or other blood disorders AnemiaAnemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. Different type...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Gastrointestinal problems that make it hard to absorb nutrients or cause a lack of digestive enzymes Long-term (chronic) infections Metabolism problems MetabolismMetabolism refers to all the physical and chemical processes in the body that convert or use energy, such as:BreathingCirculating bloodControlling bo...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Problems during pregnancy or low birth weight Factors in the child's environment include:Loss of emotional bond between parent and child Poverty Problems with child-caregiver relationship Parents do not understand the appropriate diet needs for their child Exposure to infections, parasites, or toxins Poor eating habits, such as eating in front of the television and not having formal meal times Many times, the cause cannot be determined. Symptoms Children who fail to thrive do not grow and develop normally as compared to children of the same age. They seem to be much smaller or shorter. Teenagers may not have the usual changes that occur at puberty.Grow and develop normallyA child's growth and development can be divided into four periods:InfancyPreschool yearsMiddle childhood yearsAdolescence Soon after birth, an infant...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms of failure to thrive include:Height, weight, and head circumference do not match standard growth charts Head circumferenceHead circumference is a measurement of a child's head around its largest area. It measures the distance from above the eyebrows and ears and around ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Weight is lower than third percentile of standard growth charts or 20% below the ideal weight for their height Growth may have slowed or stopped The following may be delayed or slow to develop in children who fail to thrive:Physical skills, such as rolling over, sitting, standing and walking Mental and social skills Secondary sexual characteristics (delayed in adolescents) Babies who fail to gain weight or develop often lack interest in feeding or have a problem receiving the proper amount of nutrition. This is called poor feeding.Other symptoms that may be seen in a child that fails to thrive include:Constipation Excessive crying Excessive sleepiness (lethargy) Irritability Exams and Tests The health care provider will perform a physical exam and check the child's height, weight, and body shape. Parents will be asked about the child's medical and family history.A special test called the Denver Developmental Screening Test may be used to show any delays in development. A growth chart outlining all types of growth since birth is created.The following tests may be done:Complete blood count (CBC) Complete blood countA complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Electrolyte balance Electrolyte balanceElectrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes affect how your body functions in many ways...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Genetic testing Hemoglobin electrophoresis to check for conditions such as sickle cell disease Hemoglobin electrophoresisHemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen in the blood. It is present inside the red blood cells. Hemoglobin electrophoresis measures the levels ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Hormone studies, including thyroid function tests Hormone studiesBlood or urine tests can determine the levels of various hormones in the body. This includes reproductive hormones, thyroid hormones, adrenal hormon...Read Article Now Book Mark Article X-rays to determine bone age UrinalysisUrinalysisUrinalysis is the physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine. It involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds th...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment Treatment depends on the cause of the delayed growth and development. Delayed growth due to nutritional problems can be helped by showing the parents how to provide a well-balanced diet.Do not give your child dietary supplements such as Boost or Ensure without talking to your provider first.Other treatment depends on how severe the condition is. The following may be recommended:Increase the number of calories and amount of fluid the infant receives Correct any vitamin or mineral deficiencies Identify and treat any other medical conditions The child may need to stay in the hospital for a little while.Treatment may also involve improving the family relationships and living conditions. Outlook (Prognosis) Normal growth and development may be affected if a child fails to thrive for a long time.Normal growth and development may continue if the child has failed to thrive for a short time, and the cause is determined and treated. Possible Complications Permanent mental, emotional, or physical delays can occur. When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider for an appointment if your child does not seem to be developing normally. Prevention Regular checkups can help detect failure to thrive in children.Open ReferencesReferencesMarcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Failure to thrive. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 21.Srinath A, Rudolph JA. Nutrition and gastroenterology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, Garrison J, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 11.AllVideoImagesTogA Closer Look Cystic fibrosis(Alt. Medicine)Obstructive sleep apnea(In-Depth)Gastroesophageal reflux disease and heartburn(In-Depth)Hypothyroidism(In-Depth)Travel to developing countries(In-Depth)Lyme disease and related tick-borne infections(In-Depth)Asthma in adults(In-Depth)Ear infections(In-Depth) Tests for Failure to thrive Galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase blood testRelated Information Short stature(Symptoms)Normal growth and development(Nutrition)Metabolism(Special Topic)Delayed growth(Symptoms)Chromosome(Special Topic)Turner syndrome(Condition)Endocrine glands(Special Topic)Growth hormone deficiency - children(Condition)Central nervous system(Special Topic)Anemia(Condition)Enteral nutrition - child - managing problems(Self-Care)Gastrostomy feeding tube - bolus(Self-Care)Jejunostomy feeding tube (Self-Care)Anemia(In-Depth) Review Date: 8/10/2021 Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.