When is inpatient care indicated for the treatment for pediatric growth failure (failure to thrive)?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: Andrew P Sirotnak, MD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Failure to thrive (FTT) is considered a medical emergency in infants or toddlers who weigh less than 70% of the predicted weight for length.

Watch for refeeding syndrome.

Most infants and children younger than 1-2 years can be treated with a coordinated outpatient care plan. Far fewer patients are hospitalized as inpatients today because of the development of appropriate and focus-specific outpatient care clinics and poor reimbursement for inpatient care.

Patients with severe malnourishment who have had either no previous workup or for whom outpatient care has failed may require hospitalization.

Hospitalization may be required in cases of suspected abuse or neglect, as well as for patients who are perceived to be in an unsafe environment. Foster care placement may be a subsequent requirement.

Nasogastric and gastrostomy tubes should be reserved for the most severe cases.

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