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Maternal and child health: Failure to thrive

CPD Hours



Midwifery and child health
Community and primary health care
Neonates and paediatrics
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Failure to thrive is a term used to describe children who fail to achieve their expected growth potential. Risk factors for failure to thrive include feeding difficulties, food insecurity, chronic ill health, behavioural difficulties, carer neglect and many social determinants of health such as inadequate housing, overcrowding, poor hygiene, lack of education and unemployment.

These risk factors disproportionally effect Aboriginal communities in Australia and as such, the rate of children with failure to thrive is much higher amongst Aboriginal children than non-Aboriginal children.

In order to prevent or overcome failure to thrive, children will require access to appropriate care from registered nurses and child health nurses. Midwives will play a significant role in early identification of risks. By doing this, midwives can assist in preventing failure to thrive by providing education and support to pregnant women.

This module provides a brief overview of the causes of failure to thrive and the assessment and management of it.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the risk factors associated with failure to thrive
  • Know how to assess for failure to thrive
  • Understand broadly the consequences of failure to thrive
  • Understand the options for interventions for failure to thrive

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