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Slow Weight Gain in Infants and Children

Slow Weight Gain in Infants and Children

Every mother in this world wants a happy and healthy child. Mothers get worried if their child is not eating properly and is not showing normal growth as compared to other children of the same age. What are the possible reasons causing poor weight gain in children and infants? Go through this article to find out the possible reason for your toddler showing slow growth.
AptParenting Staff
Infants and children have a specific growth pattern depending upon their age and sex. They grow in this pattern if their growth is normal. Some children however, do not follow normal growth pattern. Their growth varies from a child showing normal growth. It is this time, when parents, specially mothers get worried and try to incorporate nutritious food in their child's diet. When a child shows differed growth pattern, it is recommended that the infant or the child is taken to a pediatrician or a child specialist. The pediatrician can diagnose the child and identify the exact cause of slow growth in the child.

Doctors have height and weight chart for children and infants, which gives average weight corresponding to the age and height of the child. The body mass index is calculated using the height and weight of the child. An infant or a child having a body mass index less than 18.5 is considered underweight.

Causes of Poor Weight Gain in Infants

These can be categorized, based on the infant's age. Here are the possible causes of poor weight gain in infants -

Less than One Month Old
Inability of the infant to digest milk, poor absorption of nutrients, problems in breastfeeding the baby, and less than required number of feedings can cause slow infant growth.

Three to Six Months Old
Intolerance to milk protein, poor nutrient absorption, digestion problems, inadequate feedings, and gastroesophageal reflux are reasons for slow growth at this age. Presence of congenital heart disease can also cause slow growth in the infant as it increases the number of calories required by the body.

Seven to Twelve Months Old
Infants of this age do not cooperate in eating new food items. This results in unfulfilled nutrient requirement of the body. Parasites in the infant's intestine also hinder the absorption of nutrients thus, resulting in slow growth.

More than Twelve Months Old
A child suffering from any illness will show slow growth. Also, children get very easily distracted during meal time in this age. This causes inadequate feeding of the child.

Causes of Poor Weight Gain in Children

These can be divided into three categories -

Inadequate Intake of Calories
Children tend to restrict their diet. They do not consume the required amount of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates essential for proper growth. This may retard their growth. Secondly, eating disorders like anorexia and dysphagia (difficulty in gulping down food) can be reasons for slow growth in a child.

Excessive Loss of Calories
Diarrhea and presence of intestinal parasites can cause loss of calories due to improper absorption. Diseases causing excessive vomiting in children also cause loss of calories.

Increased Need for Calories
Body's energy requirement increases if there is an underlying problem. Heart diseases, chronic lung disease, infection, and hyperthyroidism are conditions when the body requires increased intake of calories so as to counter the illness.

As we can see, there are several reasons that can lead to this problem. Every child showing slow weight gain might have a different problem. It is important for parents of such children to first note whether the food intake of their child has been reduced or not. If there is a reduction, there might be a problem. Taking a doctor's help will prove beneficial in identifying the exact cause of slow growth in the child. Subsequently, efforts can be made to regulate the child's diet and enhance the growth of the child. Many times, it is observed that a child's food intake is normal, yet slow growth is observed in the child. This may probably be due to the genetic makeup of the child's body. Family history of such children would reveal that either or both the parents may have had the same growth pattern as shown by the child. So, if you are worried about your child's growth, get in touch with the doctor and start the treatment right away.