What are the Causes of Weight Loss and Growth Retardation in Children?

Aysel Karaca Ünlü

“Our child never eats. Is there a problem with his development? Is he behind from his peers?”
“My son and my friend’s son are at the same age, but ours weighs 7 kilos, he’s 9. I’m afraid he’ll be sick this way.”
“According to my mother, my child is always hungry. It doesn’t get any better even though I always run around with a spoon. As I try to feed him, my psychology will deteriorate”

I hear sentences like this from you almost every day. I consider these concerns, which are mostly due to the impositions brought by our society structure and mostly from the sensitivity of the mother, very normal. ”The child who cannot gain weight” began to be examined too much by many mothers. In this article, I decided to talk to you about infants / children who cannot gain weight and growth retardation concepts. But first of all, I should mention about what is the development we expect, how we decide that the development of a baby / child continues in its normal course.

What is the growth percentile scale? What does it mean?

There is a standard growth scale of the world health organization. Physicians use these percentile curves in the developmental follow-up of infants and children. Failure to gain weight is usually a problem in the first 3 years of life. In this case, there are 3 important questions to be asked:

  • Whether the child vomits,
  • How the diet is,
  • Whether the amount of calories taken is sufficient for the growth of the child should be investigated.

In addition, genetic, familial, metabolic, infectious and endocrinological diseases of the baby or child may prevent the baby to gain weight and develop.

What are the reasons for not gaining weight in babies and children?

Vomiting in children:

In a child who vomits, gastroesophageal reflux is the first thing that comes to mind. This phenomenon is more common in infants, especially when it comes to rejecting food. In addition, other diseases of the stomach and intestines, urinary tract infections, intestinal parasites can cause weight loss and developmental delay in children through vomiting.

Diet in children:

Nutrition is important in children. It is also important whether eye contact is established between the mother and the baby and who feeds the baby. Infants under 1 year of age should be fed 8 times a day. Babies older than 1 year can be fed 6 times a day. Babies older than 1 year should not sit on the dining table for more than 15 minutes. They become distracted very quickly and if they are forced to eat for more than this time, behavioral problems may occur. In older children, the child’s interest in eating decreases if he is fed in front of a phone, tablet or television and may not be able to eat the desired amount of food. Drinking large amounts of fruit juice during the day or giving sweet snacks before meals will prevent the child from eating enough.

Calculation of caloric intake would be appropriate in infants and children who are thought to have been supplied with sufficient amounts but who do not gain weight. Especially in infants fed with formula, incorrect or too much dilution of the formula will change the amount of calories the baby receives.

Does excessive fluid or water consumption in children affect weight gain?

In children, too much water or fruit juice at meal time may prevent the desired intake of calories. All food and beverages taken for 72 hours should be recorded in order to determine whether the baby or the child is getting enough calories. If the child has insufficient calorie intake, a diet is set to be twice the amount of the previous calorie intake and the weight gain is monitored. If necessary, it is supplemented with diet with high calorie density.

If the child has long-term malnutrition, he develops weight loss as well as head circumference and short stature in later stages. Therefore, it is important that your pediatrician evaluate the growth and development status at regular intervals.

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