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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995 Jan;20(1):73-80.

Very early onset nonorganic failure to thrive in infants.

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  • Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Wayne State University, Detroit.


Nonorganic failure to thrive (NOFTT) occurs in absence of any gastrointestinal, endocrine, or other chronic diseases. It is usually associated with psychosocial deprivation, although behavior problems may also contribute to its occurrence in absence of maternal pathology. We report seven infants and children between the ages of 13 and 30 months at the time of presentation, who failed to consume adequate calories and suffered from delayed growth. All were born at term after normal pregnancies with birth weights and lengths between the 50th and 95th percentiles except in one. None had any history of perinatal problems. Decreased intake was encountered almost immediately after birth, with lack of interest in consuming adequate calories. The evaluations performed did not reveal any specific etiology for the decreased intake. None had any developmental delay nor were there any psychiatric conditions in mothers. Changes in formulas or psychologic intervention were unsuccessful in modifying feeding habits except in two infants. All were supplemented with enteral supplements (Pediasure-five, Ensure-one, and Osmolite-one). Three did not consume enough orally and needed nasogastric tube infusions with eventual placement of gastrostomy tubes in two, and the third one has continued with nasogastric infusions. A significant increase in caloric intake caused improvement in growth percentiles. Height and weight percentiles improved in all and crept into the normal curve in four and five patients, respectively. Head circumference of two stayed at < 5th percentile despite nutritional rehabilitation. Attempts at weaning off the supplements actually resulted in weight loss in all. Our data suggest that there is a critical need for early, aggressive nutritional intervention in such infants.

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