Weight loss in a child can be a worrying symptom for parents and healthcare professionals. Usually it is associated with reduced appetite, fatigue and sometimes with diarrhoea and vomiting.
Weight loss is associated with acute illnesses such as viral infections and gastroenteritis which almost always improves after the illness passes. However children who continue to lose weight and have persistent symptoms need further assessment to determine the cause.
Investigations in children with weight loss depend upon the age and other presenting symptoms. The clinicians role is to perform a thorough assessment and rule out potential long term conditions such as coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease and also to ensure that the child maintains optimum growth. Support of a dietician can be valuable in these cases.
It is important to treat the underlying cause which in most cases improves the weight and also to ensure that appropriate targets are discussed with the parents. After this children weights and heights are continued to be monitored using the WHO Growth Charts.