Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive (FTT) is a condition in which a child is significantly below the average weight or rate of weight gain of children of similar age and sex. Infants or children who experience FTT seem to be much shorter and smaller than children their same age. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the experience to treat FTT in children.

What Is Failure to Thrive?

There is a wide variation in what is considered normal growth and development for children. However, children with FTT fall lower than the third percentile (as outlined on standard growth charts) or 20% below the ideal weight for their height. For some, growing may have slowed or stopped after a previously established growth curve.

Failure to Thrive Symptoms

Children with FTT may have delays in:

  • Physical skills, such as rolling over, sitting, standing and walking
  • Mental and social skills
  • Puberty

Failure to Thrive Causes

FTT can be caused by several medical conditions, as well as abuse or neglect. Medical causes can include:

  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
  • Congenital defects in organ systems
  • Endocrine system conditions or hormone deficiencies, such as thyroid hormone deficiency and growth hormone deficiency
  • Heart or lung issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues due to malabsorption of nutrients or lacking digestive enzymes
  • Chronic gastroenteritis and gastroesophageal reflux
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Low birth weight

Failure to Thrive Treatment

Treatment will be based on your child’s age, current health and the extent and cause of FTT. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology will work with you and your child to develop a unique care plan.

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