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Failure to Thrive

Causative Factors, Effects Of Failure To Thrive, Evaluation And Treatment, Public Policy


Failure to thrive is defined as poor growth in children during the first three years of life. A child's growth is evaluated by comparison with standard growth charts for normal children. Poor growth will sometimes be apparent because a child does not grow as fast as other children: Over time his or her position on the growth chart becomes lower. It may also be apparent because he or she is at the bottom of the chart in terms of weight, length, or weight in relation to length. There is no single definition on which everyone agrees. Interpretation of children's growth requires knowledge and care.

Failure to thrive commonly arises without medical causes. In such cases the family is often blamed for emotional or psychosocial deprivation. Because of the negative connotation of the term failure to thrive, many clinicians prefer to use more neutral terms such as pediatric undernutrition. The term failure to thrive is used in developed countries. In developing countries, on the other hand, the term more often used is protein-energy malnutrition, and the emphasis is on alleviating poverty and increasing food supplies. These two traditions could learn from each other.


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