Prevention & Risk Treatment
What causes nonorganic failure to thrive?
Psychological, social, or economic problems within the family almost always play a role in the cause of NOFTT. Emotional or maternal deprivation is often related to the nutritional deprivation. The mother or primary caregiver may neglect proper feeding of the infant because of preoccupation with the demands or care of others, her own emotional problems, substance abuse, lack of knowledge about proper feeding, or lack of understanding of the infant's needs.
Organic failure to thrive is caused by medical complications of premature birth or other medical illnesses that interfere with feeding and normal bonding activities between parents and infants.
Who is affected by failure to thrive?
Infants born into families with psychological, social, or economic problems are more at risk of developing nonorganic failure to thrive. NOFTT occurs when maladaptive behaviors develop in both the infant and the primary caregiver. Maladaptive behaviors may develop around problems establishing regular, calm feeding routines, problems of attachment between the mother and the infant, and/or problems of separation. Other risk factors that put a child at risk for developing nonorganic failure to thrive include mother or primary caregiver with any, or several, of the following conditions present:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Psychosocial stress
- Lack of affection or warmth shown toward infant
What are the symptoms of failure to thrive?
The following are the most common symptoms of failure to thrive. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Lack of appropriate weight gain
- Easily fatigued
- Excessive sleepiness
- Lack of age-appropriate social response (i.e., smile)
- Avoids eye contact
- Lack of molding to the mother's body
- Does not make vocal sounds
- Delayed motor development
The symptoms of failure to thrive may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.