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“failure to thrive”, three little words…

Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Blog Posts | 5 comments

I did a guest post over at Gift of Miles blog called, “Failure to Thrive” Label  Fails Parents and Children“. Because really, it means your child is “failing…” YOU are “failing”…

Kristin Beltaos is a coach and Mom dealing with, and helping families navigate and THRIVE with severe food allergies.

Check it out.

Have you been “threatened” with a diagnosis of Failure to Thrive?

How have food allergies affected your feeding and your family table?

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  1. Emgee

    I agree! I can’t imagine healthy but small babies being put in the same category as true, inorganic FTT babies–so small and underweight that they have flat buttocks–scary thin babies! I’ll never forget finding that baby in this mom’s house, and she was too “impaired” to hold her baby to feed her, and to know the baby was in danger.

  2. Emgee

    I feel totally unqualified to comment here, but I guess I’m going to anyway. I used to be a child welfare worker in my former life, and we were trained on “failure to thrive” as a possible type of parental neglect. We were taught that there are 2 types: “Organic” and “inorganic”. They told us that inorganic was only diagnosed by hospitalizing the infant and providing normal feeding and contact; if the child gained weight with that, it confirmed the inorganic FTT diagnosis, and was due to neglect (bottle propping, insufficient physical contact, etc.). If the child still didn’t gain weight, it was organic FTT, meaning that it was caused by SOMETHING (not neglect) that doctors should continue to look for. I had never heard that it was ever considered a final diagnosis–Sheesh! I only saw one case in my career, it scared me to death–and it was the inorganic variety, as the mom was chemically dependent.

    • katja

      i’d say you’re more qualified than many… FTT is a complex term, but I really object to it being used to label small, but healthy children, and it is not the most helpful, it’s really a descriptor of a group of symptoms, failure to gain weight, weight loss, growth curve delay in weight, height and head circumference and much much more, it is also used to “scare” and threaten parents… Neglectful feeding practices, but also pressuring and forceful feeding can lead to weight and growth problems. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Clare Mansmann

    My son was diagnosed with failure to thrive at 5 months of age. We thought he had allergies that caused malabsorption but many months later we learned he had none. He actually has sensory integration disorder that has caused eating to be a very unpleasant experience. He is now almost 3 years old with a gtube he has had for the past year (last year he stopped eating entirely). But he was weaned from the tube one month ago and is doing great.
    My problem with the FTT diagnosis is that it is not a diagnosis at all, but a symptom. I have trained an cared for horses all my life and work closely with veterinarians, and they would never ‘diagnose’ a horse with this, shrug their shoulders, and walk away. Too often you hear it and there’s nothing further. So leaving aside the ‘failure’ part, which is hard enough when you’re a parent trying to feed a child, it is too often associated with ‘well, at least we have a diagnosis’! And it is frustrating that it works as a diagnosis code on insurance, but many of the causes of the FTT are not considered. I went to so many therapists who nodded their heads like it was all figured out as I related my son’s history and started with ‘failure to thrive’. It was pretty much how I found the right drs and therapists, by dismissing the ones that gripped onto that diagnosis. And since I have met 3 other parents whose children are FTT and when I’ve asked them why and what is being done besides an NG tube, they get this blank look like, ‘wow. I never considered past it. I was just happy to have my kid diagnosed and put a short term plan in place’. It makes my heart go out to them because they have no clue what their future holds and the work that it will take.
    I know this didn’t have much to do with allergies, but I do tend to get worked up on the failure to thrive issue, which is so alarming and frustrating and not so helpful!

    • katja

      Clare, I am so sorry this has been such a difficult journey for you. it sounds like you were a real advocate for him and found people to help you who listened to your concerns. I’m glad you are doing so well! I’d love to know more (privately is fine) in terms of how you found success with the transition. Many parents struggle with the transition… Were you told about Ellyn Satter’s work? Mealtime Notions? What has helped you move this to a positive place?
      I agree, FTT is NOT a diagnosis. Most MDs get 0 training in feeding issues. FTT is such a poor term for so many reasons. First, when it is used to mis-“diagnose” the small but healthy child, and second, as in your case as a “diagnosis” without looking further to find what will actually help your son eat and grow. thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences. Your words will likely help others, I went to so many therapists who nodded their heads like it was all figured out as I related my son’s history and started with ‘failure to thrive’. It was pretty much how I found the right drs and therapists, by dismissing the ones that gripped onto that diagnosis.
      Other parents need so much more help and support. I really like Marsha Dunn-Kleins videos for feeding with a feeding tube. They makes so much sense…