First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Failure to Thrive
Failure to thrive is a term used to describe a child who seems to be gaining weight or height more slowly than other children of his or her age and sex. A baby who has failed to thrive may seem slow to develop physical skills, such as rolling over, standing, and walking. Slow growth also can lead to delays in mental and social skills.
Failure to thrive can be caused by medical conditions, such as anemia or thyroid problems. Some children do not thrive as expected because they do not get enough to eat or they have emotional problems. A child who has poor eating habits may also have stunted growth.
Not getting enough nutrients is the immediate cause of failure to thrive, but the ultimate cause may be complicated and hard to determine. Failure to thrive may point to caregiver depression or another mental health problem that makes it hard for the caregiver to interpret or respond to the child's needs.
If your child's failure to thrive is caused by a medical condition, your doctor may be able to treat the condition. That may be enough to help your child begin to gain weight at a normal rate. If your child has emotional problems or has been affected by conditions at home, treatment may need to include counseling and improving the home situation.
Your doctor may recommend that your child receive nutritional therapy in the hospital. Your child may be able to develop at a normal rate if the period of failure to thrive has been short.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:
Call your doctor for an appointment if:
Current as ofMarch 27, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Susan C. Kim, MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Current as of:
March 27, 2018
Medical Review:Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
UNC Medical Center
101 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
UNC Health Care Citrix
UNC Medical Center Intranet
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.