Monday, November 19, 2007

Failure to Thrive

(Background info: click here and here for more info about Son #1's condition....)

Most of us moms are at least vaguely familiar with the term: failure to thrive. Usually it brings to mind infants who are not growing as expected. I guess, technically, that would be Son #1. He was born in the 50th percentile for height and weight, but quickly dropped to the 10th percentile and then to the negative 10th percentile, which means that although he was still following the curve for "normal" development, he was not gaining weight/length at the rate of a "normal" baby.

Still. Failure to Thrive. Although it's been in the back of my brain, I've never seen them in print on a medical chart until today. My "baby", for the record, is 12 years 5 months old. I'll admit that it's distressing to learn that your child at any age isn't growing as expected. However, at this point (pre-teen years) his life is not in danger. I should point that out.

Son #1 was referred to an endocrinologist for testing in April. Blood work was okay (human growth hormone was at the low end of normal). Bone x-ray was a bit disturbing. Apparently the bigger the gap between "bone age" (indicated on the xray) and chronological age, the better. Son #1's gap wasn't much. :-(

Today's visit was slightly encouraging. Son #1 grew 3/4 an inch (more than he's grown in the past two years). I knew it would be good news, because I noticed that his size 8 Slim school pants were *finally* getting too short. (Did I mention that he's 12.5?).

The doctor wants to try an appetite stimulant. Periactin is the most popular. It's from the same family as Benedryl, though, and can make kids drowsy (altho' that would be a welcome change from Son #1 as long as the drowsiness didn't occur in school), and it can make them fidgety (Son #1 is on ADHD meds to make him less fidgety. Let's not cancel that out.)

Instead the doctor recommends a medicine called Megace which is used to stimulate appetite and prevent muscle loss in AIDS patients and cancer patients. The biggest risk to Son #1 is that it may delay puberty, which the endrocrinologist said may not be an altogether bad thing. The greater the amount of growth between now and the post-puberty growth spurt at which most boys peak, the better. The medicine is expensive - about $550 retail (my insurance copay is $100) but we figure it's worth a try. If we can encourage Son #1's appetite now and perhaps avoid the human growth hormone injections (to the tune of tens of thousands per year) in the future, it would be less invasive in the long run.

I'll keep you posted.

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