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What to do if your child suffers failure to thrive. Causes and treatments


All parents are concerned about whether our children are growing and gaining weight normally or if, on the contrary, said gain is unsatisfactory. On our site we dedicate a chapter in his day to explain the percentiles, but this time, we are going to focus on the call failure to thrive.

The failure to thrive it applies exclusively to children under 2-3 years of age, and is defined as the inability to maintain a normal growth rate, both in weight and height. Various definitions of failure to thrive have been specifically established. Here we expose them:

1. Child under 2 years old weighing less than 80% of the ideal weight for the age.

2. Child under 2 years of age, whose weight percentile is less than 3 for age on more than one occasion.

3. Child under 2 years of age, whose weight falls two percentiles over time, on a standardized graph.

It is important that we bear in mind that a single determination below normal is not enough to establish the diagnosis. Up to 15-20% of children may be individually below the cut-off point on one occasion.

The prevalence of failure to thrive it varies a lot depending on the socioeconomic level we are talking about. In some countries it can affect, according to UNICEF, 40% of children. The usual thing, however, is that in the developed environment it affects 1-10% of the population. The causes of failure to thrive They can be grouped into four main groups:

- Insufficient intake of nutrients (poor feeding technique, poverty, swallowing problems, etc.)

- Alterations in food absorption (celiac disease, severe vomiting, etc.)

- Reduced appetite (cerebral palsy, psycho-affective problems,…).

- Increased nutrient requirements (hyperthyroidism, chronic inflammatory diseases, ...)

As we see, there can be organic causes, but also non-organic causes.

Treatment of failure to thrive Due to an organic cause it will be individualized, and will depend on the reason that is motivating it. The challenge arises when the origin is not organic, as it will involve a multidisciplinary approach:

- Support from social work, if there are financial problems.

- Psychological support for the child and their relatives, in cases of infantile anorexia.

- Caloric count and assessment of the quality of the diet that the minor eats. Nutritional advice, in case of poor food technique.

- Modification of behavior during the meal, establishing a conversational dynamic versus a dynamic centered on the act of eating. That is, trying to avoid that during the family meal there is a pleasant, relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and that not everything is monopolized by the child's refusal to eat.

- Contribution of Homemade tricks to calorically enrich dishes (Add raw extra virgin olive oil to purees, add cheese in portions to purees, add Greek yogurts instead of conventional yogurts, give meats and fish in battered format, add cream sauces to homemade preparations, etc. ).

- Introduction of caloric supplements in those more serious cases.

- Contribution of vitamins / minerals if there are indicative signs of specific nutritional deficits (goiter, craniotabes, paleness, gingivitis, etc.)

- Hospitalization if necessary.

Whatever the cause, early diagnosis is important, as some experts claim that failure to thrive can cause behavioral and / or psychological disorder; although, on the other hand, from the point of view of statutory development, it is estimated that 75% of children with failure to thrive reach normal percentiles.

You can read more articles similar to What to do if your child suffers failure to thrive. Causes and treatments, in the Weight and size category on site.


Video: Failure to Thrive - Advice to Parents of a Child with Failure to Thrive (January 2022).