Poor Weight Gain

Many infants and children are referred to GI Care for Kids for evaluation and treatment of poor growth which is sometimes called failure to thrive. When poor weight gain occurs, there are several potential reasons including poor appetite, malabsorption, and genetics. In some patients, it is a combination of these factors that result in poor weight; however, the most common explanation is due to a poor appetite.

Reasons for Poor Intake:

  • Behavior/Lack of interest
  • Painful eating due to reflux or esophagitis
  • Neurologic problems/poor swallow coordination
  • Anatomic problems (eg. Cleft palate)
  • Heart or Lung disease
  • In children with malabsorption, other signs and symptoms besides poor weight gain are often present including abdominal distention, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, short stature, rickets, or greasy stools.

Reasons for Malabsorption:

  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Food allergies
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Renal tubular acidosis
  • Sucrase-Isomaltase deficiency
  • Immunodeficiency

To determine if your child's growth is abnormal or a variant of normal, our doctors need to review your child's previous growth records and to analyze your child's diet. Please make sure that you bring all of your child's growth records and previous evaluations to your first visit at GI Care for Kids.

When poor weight gain occurs, each child requires a treatment plan specific to the child's needs. In children with poor intake, many require high caloric diets, and appetite stimulants. A small number of infants and children may need supplemental feedings through a nasogastric tube or a gastrostomy tube. When malabsorption is identified, the specific cause needs to be determined to allow for optimal therapy. With the combination of nutritional interventions and medications, almost all children can have good growth.
Additional information can be obtained from these websites:

General Information on poor growth

Healthy Eating Suggestions:

Nutrition websites:


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