After three days of birth almost all infants lose weight irrespective of the nutrition they have been provided. Even they undergo changes in weight and growth patterns which depend on many external factors. But problem arises with babies who are underweight or become overweight due to some or the other reasons.
Weight gain cannot always be considered a sign of growth and weight loss can also not be considered an outcome of some disease. But both these situations cannot be neglected.
The World health organization has laid some standards for the growth of breastfed babies during the first two years of birth.
· According to it, around -10% weight loss occurs in the first weeks but the baby regains this weight by the end of third week.
· Further, weight gets doubled in four months after the birth and becomes three times in 13 and 15 months for boys and girls respectively.
These are some general guidelines for growth of babies related to weight. However, this is not the ideal condition. Every baby has its own body constitution and depending on the nutrition it has been given before and after birth, different babies may have varying body weights.
Sudden weight loss
Practically, the first few months your baby may undergo rapid changes in weight due to changes in nutrition, environment or the quantity of milk being fed to the baby.
Following can be some of the reasons for unexplained weight loss of your baby.
1) Lack of proper nutrition
It is important to keep in mind that an exclusively breast fed baby for the first 6 months will never lose weight under normal conditions. But, if the baby shows no weight gain despite exclusive breast feeding within this period, it is a matter of concern and a pediatrician must be consulted for investigations. It could be a subtle but crucial indicator for any abnormality or underlying disease. But, if the baby is not exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months, then there is bound to be signs of gradual weight loss or failure to gain weight. This could be due to inadequate nutrients being provided by formula or dairy milk being provided, even if breast milk is being fed alongside.
There can be other factors for weight loss such as deformities of the teeth, tongue or mouth which doesn’t let the baby to digest the food properly.
2) Malabsorption / Absorption problems
You’re feeding the baby well but still the baby is losing weight?
Now this problem can arise only if the food being ingested is not properly being absorbed in the body. Diarrhea, weight loss and vomiting are the symptoms if the body is not able to absorb the food properly.
This can happen due to some infection or intestinal problems. In this case, you need to consult the pediatrician immediately and he may prescribe you the suitable antibiotic.
In older children, in the later half of their first year, steady weight loss could be an indicator of inappropriate feeding, or due to oro facial abnormalities, or malabsorption of nutrients in the digestive tract. Underlying infections also could contribute to weight loss. Celiac disease or cystic fibrosis, which are also auto immune in nature, are some of the underlying disorders which may require investigation. Parasitic infestations is one of the commonest cause of digestive disorders leading to weight loss
3) Inherited digestive disease
Celiac is one such disease which the new born can inherit if anyone in the family suffers from it. The disease doesn’t let the body to digest gluten which is present in grain products.
Following this indigestion, your baby may experience weight loss, stomach pain and even diarrhea. So, for them the pediatrician will suggest a gluten free diet.
This disease is generally diagnosed when children start eating solid food during the 6th or 7th month.
4) Autoimmune disease
This affects more baby girls than boys. A disease called as Lupus is known to attack the healthy cells in the body. The symptoms of lupus are weight loss, swelling in the glands and joint and muscle problems and even sensitivity towards the sun.
The pediatrician generally refers the baby to rheumatologist in case of lupus being detected. It can be rectified through diet and medications.
Sudden weight gain
Weight gain in your growing one may be a sign of his healthy body. But if it gets too much you cannot certainly ignore it in lieu of a fit body. There are cases when your infant may gain weight due to some infection or poor nutrition.
Check out the following if your baby shows signs of weight gain.
In case you notice an abrupt increase in weight of your body then you certainly not ignore this sign. Check for the swelling at feet, mouth or even face. Swelling can even occur because of edema in which fluid gets collected in the body in excess. This requires immediate medical attention towards heart, kidney or liver.
In this condition the thyroid gland isn’t able to manufacture the hormone which can result into enlarging of the neck and even weight gain. In such a condition check with your doctor and get the bloods test done for your baby.
3) Cushing syndrome
When the body of the child makes too much of cortisol then this is called as Cushing’s syndrome. This can also be a reason of excessive weight gain. The best advice would be to check with the doctor and get the right treatment. This may cause obesity redness of the face and even early puberty.
So, make sure you undergo physical examination after a fixed interval of time to ensure your baby’s health.
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About the Author:
This article is contributed by Dietician Madhu Sharma who is a renowned Dietician-Nutritionist in Panchkula. She has devoted her several years in the service of PGI hospital in Chandigarh. Now she runs an independent set up by the name of Diet for Life. She also writes articles for newspapers and magazines. You can follow her on Facebook or you can subscribe to her blog page.