Failure to thrive (FTT) in infants or faltering growth, is a term used to describe inadequate growth or the inability to maintain growth and is a sign of undernutrition. As there are many biological, psychosocial and environmental processes that can lead to malnutrition, FTT should never be a diagnosis in itself.1
Although healthy infants vary in size, infant growth still tends to follow a predictable path with length and weight gain velocity at its highest during infancy.2 Length/height and weight are used as indicators of an infant’s health, development and nutritional status.3
Weight: In general an infant’s birth weight doubles within the first six months and they gain five to seven ounces (about 140 to 200 grams) a week. An infant’s weight should triple by the end of the first year as they gain three to five ounces (about 85 to 140 grams) a week.4
Height/length: A baby’s height will increase by 50% from birth to 12 months. From birth to age six months, a baby may grow 1/2 to one inch (about 1.5 to 2.5 centimetres). From ages six to 12 months, a baby may grow 3/8 inch (about one centimetre) a month.4
What causes FTT in infants?
The causes of FTT and faltering growth in infants can be both non-organic and organic in nature, however in most cases the cause is multifactorial. Non-organic causes include poverty and an inconsistent feeding routine. Organic causes include a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) and metabolic disorders, which result in an inadequate caloric absorption for an infant as well as congenital heart disease and infections, which lead to excessive caloric expenditure.1,5
Failure to thrive as a symptom of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy
When severe CMPA occurs in breastfed infants, failure to thrive has been reported as a symptom, which can have detrimental consequences for a growing infant. Failure to thrive is one of the general symptoms of CMPA and may result as a culmination of several other factors.6,7
Signs and symptoms related to CMPA
The majority of infants affected with CMPA have at least two symptoms affecting at least two different organ systems.8,9
Having an awareness of the most common symptoms of CMPA can help you to make an earlier diagnosis of CMPA in your patients.