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Failure to thrive

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 12.09.2023 | 2 minutes read

Failure to thrive describes when a child is not growing or developing as they should. It is commonly diagnosed in babies and toddlers, when they haven’t met the height or weight we would expect for their age, compared to the national average.

It’s more of a symptom than a condition, and requires a bit of investigation to work out what the underlying reason might be.

Who’s at risk?

Children who have serious medical conditions can develop failure to thrive. If a child is born prematurely or is born with a low birth weight, this may lead to them failing to thrive.

Conditions cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis can affect them, as can infections. In addition, conditions affecting the gut like coeliac disease, milk intolerance or allergy and reflux can also lead to failure to thrive.

Away from physical health conditions, mental and emotional abuse or neglect, as well as psychological conditions like depression and external factors like poverty can affect a child’s ability to meet their developmental needs and thrive.

What are the symptoms?

If you notice your child is not gaining weight or they are gradually or rapidly losing weight, this is a clear indication. Other symptoms can be harder to pinpoint, like tiredness and irritability. They may be missing important development milestones, such as crawling and talking, using a cup to drink, or even failing to smile and laugh at the expected age. They may develop learning disabilities as they get older. 

When should I take them to the doctor?

If you have any concerns regarding your baby’s growth, it is best to speak to your health visitor or doctor so they can arrange regular checks-ups to plot their growth and monitor their overall health. If your doctor is worried about underlying causes, they can refer your child for further tests, looking for infections or any other conditions such as developmental conditions.

They will ask about your child’s health, but also a bit about how things are at home and any particular stressors. Be open and honest with this, as there may be ways that they can help.

What is Wegovy and how does it work?
Wegovy is a prescription medication containing semaglutide, designed for adults dealing with obesity or an overweight BMI. It works alongside a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise to help manage weight.
Who is eligible to take Wegovy in the UK?
Adults with a BMI of 30 kg/m² or higher (obese) or 27 kg/m² or higher (overweight) with weight-related health issues like type 2 diabetes or hypertension are generally eligible. Healthwords provides an eligibility questionnaire.
How is Wegovy administered?
Wegovy is administered via a subcutaneous injection under the skin, usually on a weekly basis. Healthwords offers guidance on proper injection techniques.
How effective is Wegovy for weight loss?
Clinical studies show significant weight loss when using Wegovy along with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise. Weight loss typically ranges from 12-15% of initial body weight.
Are there any common side effects associated with Wegovy?
Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. These often diminish over time, and Healthwords offers action plans for those experiencing side effects.
How long is the treatment course with Wegovy?
Treatment duration varies per individual and doctor recommendations. The maximum recommended period is 2 years, and Healthwords customizes treatment plans accordingly.
What lifestyle changes are advised while taking Wegovy?
A calorie-restricted diet and increased physical activity should accompany Wegovy use. Healthwords works with you to establish sustainable lifestyle changes.
Can I get Wegovy through a pharmacy in the UK?
No, Wegovy is prescription-only. Healthwords streamlines the prescription process and offers ongoing support.
Can I do or take other things while using Wegovy?
It's essential to follow healthcare provider advice while on Wegovy. Healthwords coordinates with healthcare professionals for overall healthcare needs.
What happens if I stop?
Stopping should be a decision made with healthcare professionals. Maintaining diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes is crucial even if you stop taking Wegovy.

How is failure to thrive treated?

If the underlying condition is identified, managing that condition can help resolve the failure to thrive with the help of specialists like a children’s doctor or a dietician or a range of therapists. Medications, nutritional supplements and dietary support can be utilised.

If you are having difficulties at home – financial difficulties with providing the right nutritious food or home environment, for example – there may be local schemes or community centres that you can be referred to to help get them back on track.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 12.09.2023
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