What do we know about children who fail to thrive?

P. Raynor, M. C.J. Rudolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


It is the aim of this article to provide an overview of difficulties in children with poor growth enrolled in an intensive community intervention trial for failure to thrive (FTT). Children were assessed for developmental delay (Bayley test), inadequate diet, iron deficiency, eating and other behavioural problems, and maternal anxiety and depression (HAD Scales). Sixty-three children aged 6 months to 2 1/2 years were studied. The majority of children were from families living in poverty with many from divorced, separated or single families. On developmental testing (Bayley Developmental Scales) 55% were delayed, 27% severely. Seventyseven per cent had caloric intakes below the expected average requirement (EAR) with 19% reported at less than 50% of requirements. Iron intakes were similarly low and one-third had iron deficiency anaemia on testing. Sixty per cent of children were reported to have eating difficulties, principally in terms of responding negatively to food. Eating difficulties had commonly presented within the first weeks of life. Other behavioural and sleeping difficulties were also common. Children identified as failing to thrive in the community are likely to have associated developmental, dietary and behavioural problems which may not be immediately evident and to an extent which may require intensive multidisciplinary involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-250
Number of pages10
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Behaviour
  • Development
  • Failure to thrive
  • Nutrition
  • Psychosocial


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