St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Delayed growth

    Growth - slow (child 0 - 5 years); Weight gain - slow (child 0 - 5 years); Slow rate of growth; Retarded growth and development; Growth delay

    Delayed growth is poor or abnormally slow height or weight gains in a child younger than age 5. This may just be normal, and the child may outgrow it.


    A child should have regular, well-baby check-ups with a health care provider. These checkups are usually scheduled at the following times:


    Constitutional growth delay refers to children who are small for their age but are growing at a normal rate. Puberty is often late in these children.

    These children continue to grow after most of their peers have stopped. Most of the time, they will reach an adult height similar to their parents' height. However, other causes of growth delay must be ruled out.

    Genetics may also play a role. One or both parents may be short. Short but healthy parents may have a healthy child who is in the shortest 5% for his or her age. These children are short, but they should reach the height of one or both of their parents.

    Delayed or slower-than-expected growth can be caused by many different things, including:

    • Chronic disease
    • Endocrine disorders
    • Emotional health
    • Infection
    • Poor nutrition

    Many children with delayed growth also have delays in development.

    Home Care

    If slow weight gain is due to a lack of calories, try feeding the child on demand. Increase the amount of food offered to the child. Offer nutritional, high-calorie foods.

    It is very important to prepare formula exactly according to directions. Do not water down (dilute) ready-to-feed formula.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Contact your health care provider if you are concerned about your child’s growth. Medical evaluations are important even if you think developmental delays or emotional issues may be contributing to a child's delayed growth.

    If your child is not growing due to a lack of calories, your health care provider can refer you to a nutrition expert who can help you choose the right foods to offer your child.

    What to Expect at Your Office Visit

    The health care provider will examine the child and measure height, weight, and head circumference. The parent or caregiver will be asked questions about the child's medical history, including:

    • Has the child always been on the low end of the growth charts?
    • Did the child's growth start out normal and then slow down?
    • Is the child developing normal social skills and physical skills?
    • Does the child eat well? What kinds of foods does the child eat?
    • What type of feeding schedule is used?
    • Is the infant fed by breast or bottle?
    • If the baby is breast fed, what medications does the mother take?
    • If bottle-fed, what kind of formula is used? How is the formula mixed?
    • What medications or supplements does the child take?
    • How tall are the child's biological parents? How much do they weigh?
    • What other symptoms are present?

    The health care provider may also ask questions about parenting habits and the child's social interactions.

    Tests may include:

    • Blood tests (such as a CBC or blood differential)
    • Stool studies (to check for poor nutrient absorption)
    • Urine tests
    • X-rays to determine bone age and to look for fractures


    Cooke DW, Divall SA, Radovick S. Normal and aberrant growth. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 24.

    McLean HS, Price DT. Failure to thrive. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2011:chap 38.


    • Toddler development


      • Toddler development


      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Delayed growth

            Review Date: 1/27/2013

            Reviewed By: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs

            Brain & Spine
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile