Failure to thrive: A prospective study in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic

Catherine M. Larson-Nath, Praveen S. Goday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: We aimed to describe the clinical characteristics, diagnostic work-up, interventions, and outcomes of children referred to a pediatric gastroenterology clinic with the diagnosis of failure to thrive (FTT). Methods: We prospectively enrolled 110 children seen for the first time in our pediatric gastroenterology clinic for FTT. Standard demographic information, history, and anthropometric data were collected at initial and follow-up visits. We also obtained data about diagnostic workup, therapeutic interventions, and growth outcomes. Results: Seventy patients (63.6%) were boys with a median age of 0.79 years (interquartile range 0.36-1.98). Of the 91 children with follow-up data, 81 (89%) were found to have nonorganic etiologies of their FTT. The majority of children (56.4%) underwent laboratory evaluation. Imaging and endoscopic evaluations were performed in fewer patients (29.6 and 10.2%, respectively). Endoscopic intervention yielded a diagnosis in 16.7% of patients while the positive result rates for laboratory testing and imaging were 3.2% and 3.1%, respectively. The most common therapeutic interventions included increasing calories (71.8%), avoiding grazing (71.8%), and structuring meals and snacks (67.3%). Compared with nonadherent children, children who were adherent with standard behavioral and nutritional interventions showed a higher positive change in z scores for weight (0.36 vs -0.01, P=0.001) and body mass index (0.58 vs -0.18, P=0.031). Conclusions: The majority of children in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic with FTT have nonorganic etiologies of their failure to thrive. Laboratory, imaging, and endoscopic evaluation are rarely positive and should be judiciously performed. Adherence to standardized interventions leads to improved growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-913
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • child
  • endoscopy
  • failure to thrive
  • infant


Dive into the research topics of 'Failure to thrive: A prospective study in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this