Failure to Thrive

Failure to Thrive is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Not a single disease, but a description of a group of symptoms
  • Inadequate physical growth:
    • Usually diagnosed earlier than age 2 yr
  • Broadly divided into:
    • Organic (underlying medical condition)
    • Nonorganic (no underlying medical condition)
  • Found in all socioeconomic groups
  • Poverty increases risk of failure to thrive (FTT)
  • May result in long-term growth, behavioral, and developmental difficulties, particularly in children who fail to thrive in the first few months of life


Many diseases with unique causes resulting in 1 or more of:
  • Inadequate caloric intake
  • Inadequate caloric absorption, malabsorption
  • Excessive caloric expenditure
  • These may be secondary to underlying chronic disease

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