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October 1994

A Multifaceted Intervention for Infants With Failure to Thrive: A Prospective Study

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation, Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock (Drs Casey, Kelleher, and Kirby and Ms Kellogg); and Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Dr Bradley and Ms Whiteside).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(10):1071-1077. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170100069014

Objective:  To determine whether a multifaceted intervention decreased the incidence of failure to thrive (FTT) in a group of preterm infants with low birth weights and improved the 3-year intelligence, health, growth, and behavior status of the children with FTT.

Design:  Three-year, prospective, randomized, clinical trial.

Setting:  Eight large university hospital sites throughout the United States.

Sample:  Nine hundred fourteen preterm infants with low birth weights who were born at the sites and met study criteria.

Intervention:  Home visits weekly during the first year of life and biweekly thereafter until the age of 3 years to provide family support and implement two curricula; and attendance at a child development center from 12 months until 3 years of age, 5 days a week, to deliver an early childhood educational intervention.

Results:  The incidence of FTT did not differ between the treatment and control groups (20% vs 22%). Overall, children with FTT in the treatment group were not different from children with FTT in the follow-up group on any of the outcome variables. However, after controlling for other factors, treatment group membership significantly contributed to the prediction model of 36-month IQ (P=.005) for the children with FTT. In addition, children with FTT in the intervention group with higher compliance demonstrated higher 3-year IQ and better behavior scores than the children with FTT in the low-compliance group.

Conclusions:  The intervention did not change the incidence of FTT or the 3-year outcomes in this low-birth-weight, preterm cohort. After controlling for multiple independent variables, marked effects on 3-year IQ were noted. In addition, these beneficial effects were most pronounced in families that were most compliant with the intervention.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:1071-1077)