Children's Hospital Colorado
Digestive Health

Failure to Thrive

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What is failure to thrive?

Normal growth is the foundation of childhood health. When growth slows or stops, it is critical that the cause be understood and treated. Failure to thrive specifically refers to a child who is not gaining weight appropriately.

What causes failure to thrive?

The causes of failure to thrive can be organized into three general categories. First, a child may not be taking in enough nutrition to support normal weight gain. Secondly, some children may have increased needs for calories. For example, children with certain types of congenital heart disease may require a higher-calorie diet in order to gain weight. Third, some children may be unable to properly digest and absorb food, thereby limiting their ability to properly utilize nutrition for growth.

Who gets failure to thrive?

Failure to thrive is most commonly encountered in the first years of life, when a child's growth and rate of weight gain is the fastest. Failure to thrive is seen frequently in children with existing chronic medical problems.

Next steps

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Jennifer Marable, PA-C

Jennifer Marable, PA-C

Physician Assistant

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Jacob Mark, MD

Jacob Mark, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric, Pediatrics

Darcy Thompson, MD

Darcy Thompson, MD


Pooja Mehta, MD

Pooja Mehta, MD

Gastroenterology - Pediatric