Failure To Thrive (FTT)

    Failure To Thrive (FTT) is a term applied to children who are not growing at the rate expected for their age and gender. This means that, when plotted on the growth curve used by pediatricians, their weight falls significantly below the established norm, or it has fallen 2 major percentile lines over time, though still remaining inside the curve. Many children diagnosed as FTT have developmental delays, including not being able to roll over, sit up, reach for and grasp objects, and/or other skills exhibited by most children of the same age. If their weight is decreased enough, these children may also have abnormal head size and body length. All children who are FTT are malnourished, a condition secondary to physical factors and/or an impaired interaction pattern between the child and his/her primary caregiver.

    FTT is a very serious diagnosis for several reasons. Malnutrition during the infant and toddler years, especially during the first year of life, can cause irreversible neurological effects. This means these children are at greater risk for mental retardation and a variety of learning disorders, which can affect their educational abilities throughout their lives. Malnutrition can also keep these children's immune systems from fighting infection adequately and can cause radical changes in body chemistry, resulting in seizures. A child who is severely malnourished is in danger of dying.