Failure to thrive is when a baby or child doesn't grow or gain weight as expected. Babies and children with failure to thrive are underweight, lose weight, or stop growing at their expected rate.
Failure to thrive can lead to long-term problems with learning, behavior, and growth, especially if it happens during the first year of a baby’s life.
Failure to thrive usually happens because children aren't getting enough food. Or the food they’re getting doesn’t have enough of the proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals (nutrients) they need for healthy growth. This can happen because of problems in the family or a medical problem the child has.
Children with failure to thrive may:
The first year of life is important for brain development. If failure to thrive during this time isn't treated, children may later have:
Your child’s doctor will keep a history of height and weight at each doctor visit. They’ll compare your child’s height and weight to:
They suspect failure to thrive if your child isn't growing as expected. Doctors examine your child and ask about your child's eating habits and symptoms.
If your child is getting enough food, doctors do tests to figure out if a medical problem is causing failure to thrive. They usually do:
To treat failure to thrive, doctors will:
Children whose failure to thrive is due to neglect or abuse may need to be placed in foster care.