Slow Weight Gain in Infants and Children


Slow weight gain is sometimes called “failure to thrive." It is not in itself a disease, but rather is a manifestation of medical, social, and/or environmental factors that may prevent a child from getting the calories he or she needs to maintain a healthy rate of growth. Over the next few pages we will introduce you to the basics of slow weight gain, its potential causes, and how the physicians and the other team members of the Growth and Nutrition Program at Children’s Hospital Boston address it.

Between one and 10 percent of children in the United States show delays in weight gain compared to their peers that do require some form of intervention.

How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches slow weight gain

The Growth and Nutrition Program believes that the best approach to a child whose growth has slowed is to have a group of specialists with complementary backgrounds (i.e., gastroenterology, pediatrics, nutrition, feeding & swallowing, behavioral psychology, social work, nursing) working together to determine the causes and treatment for the slow weight gain. Our multidisciplinary team works in partnership with parents, primary care providers, and staff from other disciplines across the hospital to develop an individual long-term treatment plan for each child to make sure that the factors affecting his or her growth is addressed.

If the main concern is about the child’s gain in height, rather than weight gain, the patient may be referred to the specialists in Children’s Department of Endocrinology.

Slow weight gain: Reviewed by Susanna Y. Huh, MD, MPH
© Children’s Hospital Boston, 2012