Failure to thrive primary prevention

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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]


Regular anthropometric measurements added to an adequate, balanced diet and a healthy environment are some important primary preventive strategies.

Primary Prevention

  • Primary prevention mainly involves frequent monitoring of anthropometric measurements such as weight for age, height for age, weight for height and head circumference.
  • Failure to thrive is usually insidious in onset and therefore these measurements need to be monitored at every well- child visit. Early detection is associated with better outcomes.
  • Perfecting feeding/parenting techniques, developing a good relationship with the child, building a homely environment and a disciplined feeding style are all other aspects that must be monitored. [1]
  • Children should be fed at regulars intervals in an upright position (e.g. high chair) and parents should ideally eat with the child and encourage, not force the child to eat. Calorie requirements should be calculated.
  • Exclusive and regular breastfeeding till the age of 6 months , lactation support, preparing energy dense formula by adding glucose polymers or extra lipids and correctly balancing the water : formula concentration in feeds are other important preventive strategies. [2]
  • Parent education regarding these nutritional aspects as well as building a good dynamic between the parent and child are important goals in preventing as well as treating failure to thrive.
  • Families facing financial difficulty can avail government services offering vitamin and mineral fortified formula as well as the help of home nurses. [3]
  • Children can be encouraged to eat their meals by adding butter, peanut butter, cheese, dried fruits, sour cream, etcetera to the food. Follow the rule – 3 meals, 3 snacks and 3 choices.
  • Efforts to identify ‘families in need of extra help/services’ will help prevent child abuse.


  1. Goldbloom RB (1982). "Failure to thrive". Pediatr Clin North Am. 29 (1): 151–66. doi:10.1016/s0031-3955(16)34114-1. PMID 6276853.
  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.
  3. Nangia S, Tiwari S (2013). "Failure to thrive". Indian J Pediatr. 80 (7): 585–9. doi:10.1007/s12098-013-1003-1. PMID 23604606.

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