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Babies and Toddlers

3 important reasons why your baby is not growing as expected

Dr. Tomi



Failure to thrive refers to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is much lower than that of children of similar age and gender.
On its own, it is not a diagnosis but rather it’s a sign that a child is under nourished.
In general, this children don’t receive or cannot take in, keep or use the calories that would help them grow and gain enough weight.
This may be caused by medical problems or factors in the child’s environment such as abuse or neglect.
Usually seen in infants and toddlers. Sometimes, a child who starts out plump and seems to be growing well may gain less weight later, after a while height growth may also be affected.
1.Inadequate intake.
-Feeding problems; inappropriate food for age, wrong feeding techniques, not enough food particularly at weaning periods.
-Neurological problems; cerebral palsy, muscle tone issues.
-Craniofacial abnormalities; cleft lip and palate.
-Heart or lung problems; chest infection with chronic, persistent cough.

-Excessive, protracted vomiting.
-Malabsorption; helminthiasis, food sensitivity, immunologic deficiency.
-Chronic disease; chronic diarrhea, chronic liver disease

-Chronic anemia; low blood level.
-Chronic\ recurrent infection; HIV, tuberculosis, parasitic infestation




Many children go through periods where weight gain levels out or they even lose a little weight. This is not unusual. However, if a baby doesn’t gain weight for 3 months in a row during the first year of life, doctors usually become concerned.
With the use of a standard growth chart to plot weight, height and head circumference, children may have failure to thrive if they fall below a certain weight range for their age/ fail to gain weight at expected rate.
The aim is that the child gets the calorie needed to grow and addressing any underlying feeding issues.
Quite a number of health professionals are usually involved.
-Primary care physicians
-Speech therapist (sucking and swallowing problems)
-Social worker(family getting enough food)
-Psychologist (address behavioral issues)
-Specialist care (cardiologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist)

Usually treatment can be on outpatient bases where high calorie food is provided on regular bases.
In severe failure to thrive, a child who is not growing with initial treatment may need tube feeding. Some may need admission.
How long treatment lasts can vary.
Weight gain takes time so it might be several months before a child can obtain weight gain back to the normal range.

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Dr Tomi Sofela (MBChB) is a graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. She is on a mission to pursue fulfillment and enjoys watching movies, reading novels and organizing friends and family get-together.

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