Physicians must view failure of infants to thrive as more than a nutritional and growth problem. The tiny, nonthriving baby is often the result of a destructive mother-child interaction having a negative balance for both child and mother. The child is small, weak, and may be slow in development; the mother is depressed and depleted, often feeling helpless and hopeless. Neither can supply to the other the satisfactions of a healthy, nurturing relationship. Failure to thrive cannot be understood by evaluations limited to the medical condition of the baby. Nor can it be effectively treated or prevented without attention to the baby's role in the family and the family's place in the community.
There is an urgent need for physicians, nurses, and social workers to collaborate in providing due attention to physiological, morphological, and psychological factors when a baby and mother are not thriving. This is essential, not only in