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What Does "Failure to Thrive" Mean With Infants?

The phrase "failure to thrive" typically refers to a state of under-nutrition caused by an inadequate intake of calories, poor absorption of calories, or excess expenditure of calories, explains Dr. Ashanti Woods, a pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. "This generally results in a weight that is less than 2 to 5 percent of a baby's peers for that exact age," he explains. "Think of it as a baby's weight not increasing at the same rate of other babies who are of the same age, eating the same food," he adds. In addition to malnourishment or metabolic causes, failure to thrive can result from infections, such as HIV, or from social, non-organic causes such as neglect.

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