Bright Futures prefers the term pediatric undernutrition to failure to thrive.
Thorough history and physical examination are the keys to diagnosis, with laboratory evaluation most often not helpful.
Comprehensive feeding and social histories are key.
Detailed anthropometric measurements over time are critical.
The severity of the child’s condition dictates the approach to treatment, which should focus on nutritional rehabilitation, parental education, and behavioral intervention.
Although most children with mild undernutrition do well with adequate follow-up, more severely affected children need aggressive interventions to mitigate developmental, behavioral, and social morbidity.