We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Failure to Thrive?

By C. Hearn
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Failure to thrive is a descriptive term applied to infants or children who do not meet the expected standard of growth for their age. These kids most likely weigh less than other children in the same age bracket and generally are not growing at the typical rate. Organic failure to thrive means that the lack of growth stems from a medical condition, such as heart or blood disorder in the child, or due to complications during the mother's pregnancy. Nonorganic failure to thrive means that doctors can not find a physiological reason for the child’s stunted growth. Often, it is a combination of both organic and nonorganic elements that lead to the problem.

Symptoms that often appear along with the lack of weight gain in children who fail to thrive may include excessive fatigue, along with delays in motor, social and vocal skills. Physicians diagnose failure to thrive syndrome by using growth charts to compare the child’s weight, height and head circumference to other children of the same age, race and gender. Different countries follow growth charts based on their own population’s average rate of growth; for example, a Chinese doctor's growth chart most likely follows a different pattern of averages than a German doctor's growth chart. Additionally, doctors typically perform several lab tests to determine what may be leading to the child’s developmental delay.

Reasons that babies fail to thrive vary widely. Organic causes may include gastrointestinal problems, complications during the mother's pregnancy or infections. Additionally, heart, metabolic or blood disorders can result in stunted growth. Sometimes something as common as reflux or a food allergy leads to a baby not getting enough to eat. Nonorganic causes may include social, economic or psychological problems taking place in the life of the child. For instance, in a case of child neglect, the child may not be getting proper nutrition or forming bonds with caregivers, both of which can lead to delays in overall growth.

Treatment after a failure to thrive diagnosis depends on what is causing the condition. Sometimes caregivers simply need to be educated about how to provide proper nutrition to an infant. In other cases physicians may recommend high calorie supplements to boost the child’s growth, or, in the more severe cases, a feeding tube may be inserted in the child's stomach to provide liquid nutrition. Often an entire medical team works to help the child get past the issue. For example, a specialist may be called in to help with an infant’s feeding problems along with a nutritionist to help parents plan a diet for a child who has food allergies. If the cause is psychosocial, improvement of the child’s living conditions will generally be needed and social workers may also become involved.

If the failure to thrive period has been relatively short and the cause has been identified and corrected, the child’s development usually returns to normal. If the problem has been long-lasting, however, permanent physical, mental or emotional delays may result and can lead to problems into adulthood.

Education geared toward new parents regarding proper care and nutrition for infants helps prevent failure to thrive syndrome from occurring. Additionally, early detection and intervention, along with proper infant medical care, are key elements to getting the child back on the right path of growth.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.