Failure to thrive risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Akash Daswaney, M.B.B.S[2]


It is important to differentiate risk factors from causes. Major risk factors to be considered include an unsafe, dirty environment, history of parental psychiatric illness, substance abuse, marital conflict, low birth weight, chromosomal disorders and dental caries.

Risk Factors

  • Risk factors may be environmental, psychological or pathological. "Failure to Thrive: A Practical Guide - American Family Physician".
  • These include[1][2][3][4] :
    1. Family dysfunction – financial difficulties, marital feuds, infidelity, geographic moves
    2. Lack of support systems – relatives, neighbors, or friends
    3. Poor parenting skills,
    4. Parents with psychiatric illnesses (e.g. postpartum depression) or those with a history of substance abuse
    5. Medical Conditions predisposing to increase calorie expenditure and decreased calorie absorption/intake. (refer to the ‘causes’ microchapter of this page)
    6. Low birth weight
    7. Dental caries
    8. Tongue tie
    9. Prematurity


  1. Marcovitch H (1994). "Failure to thrive". BMJ. 308 (6920): 35–8. doi:10.1136/bmj.308.6920.35. PMC 2539114. PMID 8298353.
  2. Krugman SD, Dubowitz H (2003). "Failure to thrive". Am Fam Physician. 68 (5): 879–84. PMID 13678136.
  3. Jeong SJ (2011). "Nutritional approach to failure to thrive". Korean J Pediatr. 54 (7): 277–81. doi:10.3345/kjp.2011.54.7.277. PMC 3195791. PMID 22025919.
  4. Larson-Nath C, Biank VF (2016). "Clinical Review of Failure to Thrive in Pediatric Patients". Pediatr Ann. 45 (2): e46–9. doi:10.3928/00904481-20160114-01. PMID 26878182.

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