What are the causes of poor weight gain in children

What are the causes of poor weight gain in children

Growth in children occurs at two levels – Mental and Physical Growth. Mental growth is concerned with emotional development of the child. Physical Growth is an increase in height and weight of the child. But, the rate varies from one child to another. It is important to keep a check on child’s growth pattern so that certain measures can be taken on time for inadequacy.


Most kids steadily gain weight and grow quickly within the first few years of life. But in some cases, kids don't meet the expected standards of growth. When this happens, it's called ‘Poor Weight Gain’. This can be the first sign of an underlying condition causing growth problems. India has about 183 million children weighing less than their age.

The first 5 years of a child’s life are the most important period of development physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally

Many things can cause poor weight gain, including illnesses and eating problems. Once doctors find the cause of the problem, they can work with families to help get a child back into a healthy growth pattern.

Check Child’s Growth

Although it's been recognized for more than a century, poor weight gain lacks a clear definition, in part because it's not a disease or disorder itself. Rather, it's a sign that a child is undernourished. In general, kids who are undernourished don't receive or cannot take in, keep, or use the calories that would help them grow and gain enough weight.

Doctors usually diagnose the condition in infants and toddlers - an important time of physical and mental development. After birth, a child's brain grows as much in the first year as it will grow for the rest of a child's life. Poor nutrition during this period may have lasting harmful effects on brain development.

Most babies double their birth weight by 4 months and triple it by age 1, but undernourished kids usually don't meet those milestones. Sometimes, a child who starts out "plump" and seems to be growing well may gain less weight later. After a while, height growth may slow as well.

If the condition continues, undernourished kids might:

  • lose interest in their surroundings
  • avoid eye contact
  • become fussy
  • not reach developmental milestones like sitting up, walking, and talking at the usual age

With the help of information given below, you can identify ideal weight and height for your child according to his/her age:

4-6 months: The expected weight for children of this age should be ‘2 times the birth weight’. And ideally, you would see slow and steady growth in height.

End of 12 months: Kids of this age should weigh 3 times of the birth weight and increase upto 2 inches in height.

1-2 years: Weight at 12 months + 1.5 to 3 kgs. Height at 12 months + increase of 3 - 5 inches

2-9 years: Weight at 2 years + increase upto 2.5 kg/year. Growth in height should be slow and steady.

9-15 years: Weight at 9 yrs + increase of 4 - 5 kg/year. You would see a sudden growth spurt in your child during this phase.

Causes of Poor Weight Gain

Inadequate feeding: In some cases, parents mistakenly cause the problem. They measure formula incorrectly, causing an infant to get fewer calories. Because they worry that their child will become fatty as a result of which they restrict the amount of calories. And sometimes parents don't pay enough attention to their children's hunger cues.

Children refuse to eat: Some children have trouble eating enough food because of prematurity, developmental delays, or conditions like autism in which they do not like eating foods of certain textures or tastes.

Health problems involving digestive system: Several health conditions can prevent a child from gaining weight. These include gastroesophageal reflux (GER), chronic diarrhea, cystic fibrosis, chronic liver disease, and celiac disease.

With reflux, the esophagus may become so irritated that a child refuses to eat because it hurts. Persistent diarrhea can make it hard for the body to hold on to the nutrients and calories from food. Cystic fibrosis, chronic liver disease, and celiac disease all cause problems with the body's ability to absorb nutrients. The child may eat a lot, but the body doesn't absorb and retain enough of that food. Children with celiac disease are allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. The immune system's abnormal response to this protein damages the lining of the intestine so it can't absorb nutrients properly.

Food intolerance: A food intolerance, which is different from a food allergy, means the body is sensitive to certain foods. For example, milk protein intolerance means the body can't absorb foods that have milk proteins, such as yogurt and cheese, which could lead to undernourishment.

An ongoing illness: A child who has trouble eating because of prematurity or a cleft lip or palate, for e.g. - may not take in enough calories to support normal growth. Other conditions involving the heart, lungs, or endocrine system can increase the amount of calories a child needs and make it hard for the child to eat enough to keep up.

Infections: Parasites, urinary tract infections (UTIs), tuberculosis, and other infections can force the body to use nutrients rapidly and decrease appetite. This can lead to short or long term imbalance in growth pattern of the child.

Sometimes a mix of medical problems and environmental factors leads to poor weight gain in children. For instance, if a baby has severe gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and is reluctant to eat, feeding times can be stressful. The baby may become upset and frustrated, and the caregiver might be unable to feed the child enough food.

Complications of Poor Weight Gain

If ignored, it may lead to:

• Growth retardation

• Recurrent infections

• Delayed puberty

• Osteoporosis

• In severe cases may cause cardiac troubles

When to see a doctor?

Many children go through brief periods when their weight gain levels out, or they lose a little weight. This is usual. However, if a baby doesn't gain weight for 3 months in a row during the first year of life, parents should take a note of it and visit a doctor without any further delay.

For children of 4 months and above, you can refer to parameters given earlier in the text. It will help you in measuring appropriate height and weight pattern of your child.

Homeopathy helps in treating Growth problems in Children

According to a study performed at San Juan de Years, Ranchuelo County, Cuba, 85 per cent of underweight children with homeopathic treatment attained normal weight over a period of one year whereas, in the control group only 30 per cent of children attained normal weight.

Homeopathy offers a wide range of medicines that can help underweight children gain weight in a healthy manner. Unlike conventional treatment, homeopathic medicines have no side-effects; improves the immunity and decreases the tendency of infections in children. At times, supplements overdose interferes with food absorption in kids, which is not the case for homeopathy – homeopathic medicines enhance food absorption in children naturally. For psychological or behavioral issues, homeopaths give calming medicines to children while treating for poor weight gain.

To know more in detail about Homeopathic Treatment for Poor Weight Gain in Children, click on: https://www.drbatras.com/poor-weight-gain/homeopathic-treatment

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