27 February 2012

A Weighty Subject : Failure to Thrive

Pardon the pun, I tend to make jokes when I get worried or nervous. I've waited almost a month to write this post to try and get some perspective, not panic, and try to pull myself out of some self-blame.

Because we don't even know if there's a problem yet.

At the beginning of the month Jaron had his 15 month well-baby visit. He's perfectly healthy and is even a little advanced in his development, particularly his verbal abilities. But...

He has now completely dropped off the CDC and even the WHO growth charts.

He's flatlined. In 3 months he gained barely 8oz. his growth curve turned into a straight line. Not something that they want to see at this age.

At every other well-baby visit since he was 3 months old has been a weight concern, at first we had issues with foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, then he became so active that he was burning more calories than he was eating. He was still ok, he was just gaining slow and keeping to his own curve.

But at his last appointment he was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive.

My first reaction was panic that the state was going to get involved, that I'd lose my kids. Our pediatrician, Dr. C, was very quick to reassure me that the state only got involved in "Failure to Thrive Due to Neglect" and this was definitely not the case. But aside from that, even though Dr. C told me that I was doing everything I could, it's so hard to hear "Failure to Thrive" and not understand "Mommy Failure."

Dr. C has referred us to a Gastrointestinal Specialist. He says the GI Dr may want to just watch him and give us ways to up calorie intake, or do bloodwork, or run other tests. In our ped's opinion, Jaron is just little and burning more calories than he's eating and he just wants to get Jaron checked out to confirm.
Now he gets a WHOLE Donut...not that he eats it all...

I still can't help but wonder if I've done something wrong, not offered enough food, given him the wrong kind of food, something. His GI appointment is March 12th, still 2 weeks away. So I'm cooking with butter, giving him milkshakes and trying to get him to eat as much as possible.

And he's still breastfeeding. Some days more than others. We were in the process of partial weaning, I was trying to get him down to just nursing for bed, naps, and early morning. Now I don't know. One school of thought is to continue working towards that goal so that during the day he is eating a lot of  calorie packed food while another says pack him full of breastmilk and get calories in him that way.

I'm just not sure how calorie packed my milk really is. It's always had very little fat separation when I pump and refrigerate. And as active as he is...going non-stop all day, at 16 months. I worry. How can I not?

I guess we'll see in 2 weeks what the GI Dr says. Because I sure don't know what to do at this point.

Any advice, comments, and commiseration are welcome! Share your thoughts here or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter!


  1. Hello! I'm Bfing mom of seven beauties. I have nursed all of my children for over a year+. My current baby is 17 months old and is still nursing.

    Doctors come with schedules, charts and many things that may scare the frick out us, but ultimately, the baby should be the final indicator showing us whether we should panic or not. If your child is showing no symptoms, other than the slow weight gain, I really would not worry too much about it.

    Every child's body make-up is different and some will even defy the "curve" meant to categorize and label a child's progress. Case in point, my fourth child was HUGE in the belly (My due date was misdiagnosed because of this) and at seven years old, he's wears size 10/12 pants.  

  2.  First, I want to begin by saying that you're doing an awesome job. My first daughter was diagnosed as borderline "Failure to Thrive" at her 15 month appt. I remember feeling like a failure, like something I did was contributing (not contributing) to her ability to grow. It was horrible. I was also pregnant then, so my milk supply was very low. At that appt. the doctor assured me that my daughter was OK, but that I needed to ensure that she was getting the calories. I stopped breastfeeding then and gave her cow's milk with pediasure. At first she hated it, but with time, she came to enjoy it. Along the pediasure, I made sure to give her nutrient dense snacks and meals. She was a very picky eater then, so I went with the things that she liked first and worked from there. Within a month, she had gained 2 pounds! I could not have been more happy. She went from the 3rd percentile to the 10th percentile. She's now in the 25 percentile.

    With your little guy, just be patient and try not to stress. Offer foods and keep mealtimes happy times. You will get through this. Email me if you have any specific questions about anything or if you just want some one to talk to!

  3. It makes me so sad that a mom like you who tries so hard and does so much for her babies is going through such a hard thing. We have aquantainces up here in Greenville that definitely underfed their child for the first 9-12 months and she dropped from the 35th percentile at birth to the 3rd and now to 1%. It's so heartbreaking and frustrating. She didn't walk until 15 months old, crawled late, rolled over late and to this day is totally A.D.D. and won't even sit still to have a book read to her. And she doesnt talk NEARLY as much as Logan and they are only 1 day apart. I think you should look at this situation by focusing on milestones and behavior: Jaron walked early, he is talking great for is age and he is active and energetic and happy. You are a good mommy. Now give Jaron another donut! :)

  4. Thanks! My brain tells me that it's not a big deal, but there is so much "info" that makes a mom doubt herself out there!

  5. What were some of her favorite snacks? The Dr has told us to start replacing his juice/milk with milkshakes  w/egg whites and so far that seems to be going well, although I haven't actually added the egg whites yet, raw egg makes me nervous...


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