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Failure to thrive is a medical term. It describes a child who gains weight or height more slowly than other children.
A baby who has failed to thrive may be slow to develop physical skills. The baby may roll over, stand, or walk later than other children do. In some cases, slow physical development leads to mental and social delays.
Failure to thrive has different causes. It can be caused by medical problems. These include anemia or thyroid problems. It can also be caused by emotional problems. And in some cases it happens when a child does not get enough to eat. This can happen when food is not available.
If the cause is medical, your doctor may be able to treat that problem. This could help your child gain weight at a normal rate.
If your child has emotional problems or is affected by the conditions at home, treatment may include counselling and improving the home situation. Your doctor may recommend that your child get 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 and your doctor finds and treats the cause.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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