The Growth and Nutrition Program was established in 1984 to support a team approach to evaluating and treating children with growth deficiencies known as "Failure to Thrive" (FTT). This term is applied to infants and children who are severely undernourished or show persistent failure to gain weight due to poor nutrition. There are many causes of growth deficiency and poor nutrition, including social, economic, or emotional reasons, so the most effective treatment involves a multidimensional team approach. The Growth and Nutrition Program makes expert services available to children and their families to ensure that nutrition does not impair the health and development of children in Massachusetts. All Massachusetts children from birth to six with declining growth due to nutrition can be referred for evaluation and treatment from primary care providers, hospitals, and community-based agencies, including nutrition programs.
Key activities are:
- Outpatient evaluation and treatment
- Community outreach, provider training, advocacy for the child and family, and help in establishing connections between families and community agencies
- Services are available at Baystate Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Children's Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Saints Medical Center, Saint Anne's Hospital, and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center
- Multidisciplinary teams can include a physician, a dietitian, a nurse, a social worker, and a psychologist or case manager, all trained in evaluation and treatment of growth delays
- Comprehensive care plans address assessment, treatment, and coordinated care provided by DPH-supported and other community programs