Infant Weight Gain Problems

Weight is important for your baby –in fact, one of the first things they do when your child is born is that they weight the baby and monitor his or her weight through the next few years of their life. Sometimes children who are born prematurely or at a lower birth weight are prone to certain birth injuries, while others who are born at a higher birth weight are prone to other birth injuries. While his or her weight at birth has nothing to do with how he or she will gain weight, it’s still one illustration of how important an infant’s weight is. If your baby isn’t gaining weight properly, take a look at what this may be a symptom of.


Preeclampsia is often characterized by children who are born between 32 and 36 weeks and consequently are underweight. The weight gain of these children thereafter is extremely important to monitor as there may be other related symptoms that keep them underweight. These related symptoms of preeclampsia in the child after delivery include elevated blood pressure, signs of distress such as bluish hands, and even seizures.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is another birth injury which is common among children that are born with a low birth weight. As if the low birth weight and the trauma of being born which caused the cerebral palsy (cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder rather than a muscular disorder as it’s misunderstood for) wasn’t enough, often children with cerebral palsy have a hard time gaining weight because they have a hard time with nutrition. Sometimes their digestive tract is one of the affected muscle groups and works abnormally, and sometimes children have a hard time gaining weight because they plainly can’t feed themselves or swallow properly. Often children with cerebral palsy can’t control their muscle movements (called spasticity) so they can’t feed themselves, and it’s difficult for other people to feed them because they have difficulty with eating or swallowing.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an abnormality of the glands, producing extra thick mucus and sweat. Often children with cystic fibrosis experience wheezing, intense nasal blockage, intestinal blockage, constipation, and suffer from mucus in the lungs (which is why diagnosis often involves a chest x-ray). Children born with cystic fibrosis are often underweight and suffer from poor weight gain for possibly their whole life. While cystic fibrosis is a birth injury related to the glands, the body treats the mucus as an infection, and all of the body’s energy goes into fighting the infection, not on properly processing digestion, which leads to poor weight gain and constipation.

Brain Damage

Your baby may have a hard time properly gaining a healthy amount of weight because there may be something happening neurologically that prevents him or her from processing food properly. If your child didn’t breathe for up to 6 minutes at the time of birth, it’s possible that oxygen deprivation could have caused brain damage, thus damaging normal neurological pathways and communications that would make your child process food normally. Your child may have other symptoms of brain damage including intellectual disability, weak muscle movement, the feeling that they’re just “not there”, or even something as extreme as seizures.