Failure to Thrive – A Nutritional Approach1

Failure to thrive (FTT) generally describes an infant or child whose weight, rate of weight gain or, to a lesser degree, their linear growth and head circumference, is significantly below that expected of children of a similar age.
With regard to adults, the term FTT is more generally applied to geriatrics.

It is typically noted that: 1) Obtaining an accurate account of eating habits and calorie intake and, 2) Utilizing a multi-disciplinary team including a nutritionist, a physical therapist, a psychologist and a gastroenterologist are the two keys to a therapeutic intervention.

Physicians will address underlying causes of FTT:
If no medical conditions are identified, the main goal in the management of FTT is the provision of adequate calories, protein and other nutrients for “catch-up” growth.
Catch up growth requirement (kcal/kg/d) = [calories required for age (kcal/kg/d) x ideal weight for age (kg)/actual weight (kg)]. Nutritional supplements and the rule of 3’s – 3 meals, 3 snacks, and 3 choices are helpful in achieving catch-up growth.

If a medical condition is identified, the approach to the management of FTT will vary depending on the condition. For those patients experiencing difficulty achieving adequate calorie intake through oral feeding, nutritional supplements can be added OR, the option of enteral tube feedings could be considered.

Opt2thrive, with its 630 calories and 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber, is a delicious food tool to assist with “catch-up” growth.
Making a decision about tube feeding is a difficult decision. The FTT/Malnutrition Approach Tool may assist you with your decision.


1 Article summarized from Nutritional Approach To Failure To Thrive by Su Jin Jeong, MD. Department of Pediatrics, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea