Failure to thrive epidemiology and demographics

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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]


The prevalence of failure to thrive depends on the development status of the country. Studies have suggested a prevalence rate of approximately 5% in the United States of America.

Epidemiology and Demographics

  • A study in India found that 40% of the population were affected by mild to moderate malnutrition whereas western literature suggests a prevalence of 8% in the pediatric population. [1]
  • Failure to thrive is seen more in children < 2 years of age and during their teenage years when the growth rate of the child is at it’s highest.
  • The incidence of non-organic failure to thrive has been reported to be somewhere between 30%-50% in the failure to thrive patients. [2]
  • There is no gender or race predisposition.
  • It is found in those families who suffer from a lack of financial resources/education and are burdened with additional stressors like family discord, infidelity, psychiatric conditions, alcohol or drug abuse, etcetera. "Failure to Thrive: A Practical Guide - American Family Physician".
  • Gretchen Homan et al reported that failure to thrive is prevalent in up to 10% of children in primary care and approximately 5% of those who are hospitalized.
  • Another study suggested that failure to thrive accounts for up to 5% of the pediatric admissions for children less than 2 years of age.
  • 15-30% of children seen by acute care services suffer from growth deficits. "Failure To Thrive - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf".


  1. Venkateshwar V, Raghu Raman TS (2000). "FAILURE TO THRIVE". Med J Armed Forces India. 56 (3): 219–224. doi:10.1016/S0377-1237(17)30171-5. PMC 5532051. PMID 28790712.
  2. 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.

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