In our clinic we often see children with poor weight gain. I will break it down into following sections to make it easier to understand.
Understanding Poor Weight Gain
During infancy and childhood, kids grow and gain weight faster than any other time in their lives. But sometimes, children don’t gain weight at the expected rate. This can happen for many reasons, such as genetics, being born prematurely, or undernutrition. It’s essential to address this issue, as it could be a sign of undernutrition or a medical problem that needs treatment.
When we say a child has poor weight gain, it means they’re gaining weight slower than other kids of the same age and gender. Poor weight gain isn’t a disease but a symptom with many possible causes.
Possible Causes of Poor Weight Gain
Some reasons for poor weight gain include:
- Not eating enough calories or the right nutrients
- Not absorbing enough nutrients
- Needing more calories than normal
Age-Related Causes of Poor Weight Gain
There are various causes for poor weight gain at different ages:
- Birth to six months: poor quality of suck, breastfeeding problems, or medical issues affecting nutrient absorption
- Seven to 12 months: feeding problems, delayed introduction of solid foods, or food allergies
- Over 12 months: picky eating, illness, stress at home, or food allergies
Diagnosing and Addressing Poor Weight Gain
If your child isn’t gaining weight as expected, it’s important to figure out and treat the cause. We start with a full medical history and a physical examination. In some cases, we might recommend blood tests or imaging tests.
As a parent, you should let us know if your child has symptoms like:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Avoiding certain foods or textures
- Drinking large amounts of liquids
We might also ask about your child’s household, any recent changes or stresses, or if there’s a history of medical or psychiatric illnesses in the family. Answering these questions honestly can help us find the best solution for your child.
In some situations, we might ask you to keep a record of what your child eats and drinks for a few days. This can help us determine if they’re getting enough food and the right variety of nutrients.
If you have any concerns about your child’s weight gain, please contact your family physician or pediatrician for further help. With your physician’s support your child can achieve healthy weight gain and growth.
MD, FRCPC, FAAP, Consultant Pediatrician