Pediatric Specialists for Failure to Thrive
At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, our pediatric gastroenterologists are experts at diagnosing failure to thrive. Every year, we care for many children with all types of digestive problems, including rare and complex diseases that cause or contribute to this condition.
What is failure to thrive?
Doctors use the term “failure to thrive” when a child is not meeting weight or height milestones for their age. This can occur in children of all ages, from babies and toddlers to adolescents and teenagers.
Signs and symptoms of failure to thrive in children may include:
- Not meeting weight milestones
- Not meeting height milestones
- Abnormal weight loss
What can cause failure to thrive?
A common cause of failure to thrive is not taking in enough calories to grow as expected. Sometimes, however, failure to thrive is caused by malabsorption or calorie losses. Dozens of different diseases and conditions can cause or contribute to growth problems, including:
- Food allergies
- Celiac disease, an immune-mediated disorder caused by an intolerance to foods with gluten (e.g., bread, pasta)
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs, digestive tract and other organs
- Congenital heart disease, which causes a child to need additional calories and nutrients than other children
- Esophagitis, or irritation or inflammation of the esophagus
- Anatomic abnormalities
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), or chronic heartburn
Can failure to thrive be treated?
Yes. As part of a major academic medical center, Comer Children’s is on top of the latest medical and surgical treatments for failure to thrive. Many of our physicians are also conducting research to uncover innovative approaches for treating diseases that contribute to failure to thrive
Once we know the nutritional or medical problem causing failure to thrive, we focus on helping your child thrive and grow. The exact treatment will vary, depending on your child’s age and disease or condition.
Many times a change in diet or feeding approach can help your child gain needed weight and height. Parents can work one-on-one with our experienced pediatricians, dieticians, lactation consultants, social workers and other team members. Together, we will help you ensure that your child is getting enough nutrients and calories.
In addition, we consult with other pediatric specialists at Comer Children’s, including endocrinologists, pulmonologists and cardiologists.
Pediatric GI Specialists
Hepatology (Liver Disease)