It may be odd to hear about a local diagnosis of “failure to thrive,” since the term sounds more like it should describe the image of an orphan in an impoverished country. The diagnosis though, can be given to even the offspring of an iPhone toting, Prada wearing parent. It is usually bestowed upon children whose rate of weight gain is significantly under that of their peers, and the cause may be psychological or completely organic.
In order to be labeled as failure to thrive, a child must be under the third percentile of his or her weight as outlined by growth charts. This translates to somewhere below twenty percent below the ideal weight for a child’s height. Many FTT cases still stem from a lack of nutritional knowledge in parents who are simply too young, too stressed, and do not have the funds to provide an adequate food supply. These parents may have to work several jobs and water down formula without knowing that in doing so they are depriving their infants of essential calories and nutrients.
Causes can certainly be organic and even kids with an overabundance of attention and resources and no emotional disturbances can fall off the growth curve. Endocrine, or hormone problems, can be to blame. Kids with thyroid issues or a growth hormone deficiency can be labeled as FTT cases. Feeding difficulties in an infant may not necessarily be due to emotional neglect or abuse, but can be a problem with the nervous system in which the child has difficulty sucking. Heart or lung problems or malabsorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract also affect growth significantly.
Whether organic or emotional, kids have time to catch up. Problems should be addressed as quickly as possibly to ascertain that kids don’t fall behind on the developmental level.