Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive is a term used to describe infants and young children who are not growing or are losing weight due to malnutrition, neglect, abuse, or medical conditions. In failure to thrive, the child may have a low body weight (below the third percentile for the child's age), a low height for age, or a small head circumference. A child with failure to thrive is not eating or being offered enough calories to meet his or her nutritional needs. Besides calorie: unit of food energy impaired growth, other symptoms include tiredness, sleeplessness, irritability, lethargy, resistance to eating, vomiting, and problems with elimination. The child may be suffering from an illness, medical condition, or recurring infections; taking medications; or come from a poor, distressed, or socially isolated family. To attain normal growth levels, a child with this condition requires from 1.5 to 2 times the normal amount of calories. see also Infant Nutrition.

Heidi J. Silver


Bithoney, W. G.; Dubowitz, H.; and Egan, H. (1992). "Failure to Thrive/Growth Deficiency." Pediatrics in Review 13:453-460.

Schwartz, D. (2000). "Failure to Thrive: An Old Nemesis in the New Millennium." Pediatrics in Review 21:257-264.

Internet Resource

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Failure To Thrive." <>

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