Risk factors and outcomes for failure to thrive in low birth weight preterm infants

K. J. Kelleher, P. H. Casey, R. H. Bradley, S. K. Pope, L. Whiteside, K. W. Barrett, M. E. Swanson, R. S. Kirby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the epidemiology, clinical characteristics, and outcomes for low birth weight (LBW) infants with growth deficiency, or failure to thrive (FTT, the term commonly used by pediatric providers to describe growth deficiency or faltering in early childhood). Design. Three- year prospective cohort study with matched case-control study of outcomes. Setting. Eight large university hospital sites throughout the United States. Sample. 914 LBW infants inborn at the sites and meeting study criteria. Results. FTT was a common condition in this cohort, with 180 (19.7%) of 914 LBW infants meeting case criteria by 30 months. New cases of FTT peaked at 8 months gestation-corrected age. In addition to expected differences in growth between infants with and without FTT, infants with FTT had lower developmental indices and less stimulating home environments. At 36 months, FTT infants had lower IQ scores and were much smaller than infants without FTT. Conclusions. Growth deficiency, or FTT, is a common clinical condition for those involved in the follow-up care of LBW infants. Worse cognitive and growth outcomes were observed for those meeting the restrictive case criteria employed in this study. More than 80% of the cases in this LBW cohort did not involve any chronic medical disorders, but several biological and environmental differences were found between those who developed FTT and those who did not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-948
Number of pages8
Issue number5 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive outcomes
  • epidemiology
  • failure to thrive
  • growth outcomes
  • low birth weight
  • preterm infant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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