Infant Growth: Is Your Child on Track?
Understanding 'Failure to Thrive'
Causes of Failure to Thrive
The causes will ultimately fall into one of four categories:
- Not enough calories are being consumed. Reasons for this range from a cleft lip/palate with the wrong feeding apparatus to extreme poverty, to chaotic feeding due to caretaker mental illness or substance abuse, to mistaken beliefs by the parents that children should not eat foods that will make them “fat.”
- Calories are taken in but not kept in or properly absorbed by the gut. Chronic diarrhea, severe reflux, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis all fit into this category.
- The body’s need for calories is increased and the demand cannot be met. Children with certain heart diseases, lung diseases, hyperthyroidism and cancer can fit into this situation.
- The body cannot use the available calories properly. Diabetes and certain liver and kidney diseases fit here.
Ideally, after the medical history and physical exam are completed, only a few lab tests make sense, though there are scores that could be done. Often, a general blood test looking for hidden infections and anemia and a urine test screening for infections of the urinary tract and other kidney problems are the only initial tests done, with further testing depending upon the suspected causes. Only very rarely does this testing require hospitalization.
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