Hearing that your child is not thriving well is not an easy thing to take in. Many children are classified as “failure to thrive” after their growth has been monitored and does not meet the average expectiations. Failure to thrive is a term that is given to a child that is not growing as expected. The majority of children that are considered “failure to thrive” will be diagnosed during the infant or toddler years. Most children will grow at a remarkable rate during the first few years of life. While not all children will grow at the same rate, most will grow rapidly. A child will be considered failure to thrive when their growth does not meeting the normal patterns of development.
Most children that are considered failure to thrive have an underlying condition that does not allow their body to consume and use the necessary calories for proper weight gain and growth. Some common conditions that contribute to failure to thrive include reflux, cystic fibrosis, diarrhea, allergies or an intolerance of milk as an infant, heart abnormalities and respiratory complications.
A doctor will diagnose failure to thrive after using a growth chart to keep a record of the child’s growth in weight and height. It is normal for children to follow a consistent growth pattern and when the child falls significantly below their pattern, failure to thrive will likely be diagnosed. Most children that are diagnosed with the condition are not proportionate in height and weight. Most doctors will want the parent to keep a daily food record of what the child consumes so that they can accurately count calories. Treatment includes frequent doctor visits and sometimes visits with specialists that can help treat or diagnose underlying conditions. Infants and toddlers will be placed on high-calorie formula and breastfed babies will usually need formula supplementation to ensure the proper amount of calories are being consumed. Because the child's brain is developing at an incredible rate and fat is crucial to brain development, proper nutrition is a necessity. Some children may be required to have hospital care so that feedings can be monitored. It is important to treat any condition that is causing the problem as well.
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