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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Failure to Thrive
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Failure to Thrive

Alternate Names : FTT, Failure to Gain Weight

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Failure to thrive, also known as FTT, occurs when an infant or toddler fails to gain weight and grow in a healthy manner. In some cases, the child may even lose weight.

What is going on in the body?

Usually discovered in infants and in children younger than 2 years, failure to thrive describes a child's lack of steady growth. It may refer to body weight and also to inadequate growth in height and head circumference.

FTT is generally classified as:

  • Organic. This occurs when FTT has a physical cause, such as a gastrointestinal or neurological disease.
  • Non-organic. This means no physical cause can be found. In this case, FTT is assumed to be due to environmental conditions. A caregiver may not feed the child enough formula, or the home life may be one of abuse and neglect.
  • Most infants between 6 months and 1 year of age stop growing as rapidly as they did during the first few months of life. They will continue to eat well yet show no decrease in activity or development. Caregivers should not mistake this healthy slowdown in growth for FTT.

    What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    The causes of FTT vary and are not always obvious. Certain diseases or physical conditions can cause inadequate weight gain such as:

  • congenital heart disease
  • frequent infections
  • bowel or intestinal disorders, such as Hirschsprung disease
  • diabetes
  • liver disease
  • kidney disorder
  • cleft lip or cleft palate
  • A child may not be adequately fed if there is a bonding or behavioral problem between the parent and child. Some infants may have difficulty expressing hunger, a poor appetite, or intolerance for some foods. This makes feeding them harder, especially for a new parent.


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    Failure to Thrive: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: John Wegmann, MD
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/15/02

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