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Allow underweight children to be ‘messy’ with their food, says NICE

Allow underweight children to be ‘messy’ with their food, says NICE

Slow weight gain in early childhood known as faltering growth, may be associated with persisting problems with appetite and feeding, according to new guidance by NICE. The guideline have been issued to improve monitoring and management  of children with faltering growth and to assist and guide  GPs for sharing the same with parents and caretakers for implementation.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Having a child with faltering growth can be distressing for parents and carers. However, simple things such as encouraging relaxed and enjoyable feeding and mealtimes, eating together as a family or even allowing young children to be ‘messy’ with their food can help encourage them to eat.

“This guideline should also help healthcare professionals identify more complex cases of faltering growth for referral to specialist services. This should give all infants and children with faltering growth the best chance of reaching a healthy weight.”

The General Practitioners s refer to  growth charts  known as  centile growth charts to evaluate how infants and children are growing compared with healthy infants or children of the same age and sex. Various growth parameters like  child’s weight, length or height and head circumference are  plotted on these charts to show growth over time.

According to the NICE guideline  faltering growth may be indicated by:

  • A fall across 1 or more weight centile spaces if birth weight is below the 9th centile
  • A fall across 2 or more weight centile spaces if birthweight was between the 9th and 91st centiles
  • A fall across 3 or more weight centile spaces if birthweight was above the 91st centile
  • When current weight is below the 2nd centile for age whatever the birthweight.

According to data collected in the National Child Measurement Programme, in 2015, 1% of children aged 4-5 were underweight.

It is normal for Newborn infants to lose weight in the early days of life but in case the same persists or there are large weight losses, it  can be a sign of possible problems with feeding and weaning. In some children older ion age the faltering growth can be because of  child not eating enough to get the energy needed for growth and development. In all such case it is better to allow underweight children to be ‘messy’ with their food, says NICE

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