Failure to thrive has many possible causes. In some cases, more than one thing may cause it.
A baby or child may not be taking in enough nutrients and calories. This can occur if a baby or child:
- Is not given enough breastmilk, formula, or food
- Has breastfeeding problems
- Is not given solid food at an appropriate age
- Is not willing to eat enough food
- Vomits food repeatedly, such as from severe gastroesophageal reflux
- Has trouble swallowing
- Has developmental delays that cause feeding problems
A baby or child may take in enough food, but not be able to absorb enough nutrients and calories. This can occur if a child has a problem such as:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Celiac disease
- Severe food allergies or intolerance
A baby or child with an ongoing (chronic) health condition may also need more calories and nutrients than normal. This may be the case with congenital heart disease or a genetic syndrome.
In some cases, a family may not have enough support or understanding of what a baby needs. Or they may not provide the right kinds or amounts of food. In severe cases, neglect or abuse may lead to FTT if food is kept from a baby on purpose.