The Grow Clinic is an outpatient clinic that evaluates and treats children diagnosed with failure to thrive (FTT), or who are underweight.
The multidisciplinary Grow Team consists of a pediatrician, nutritionist, social worker/coordinator, and psychologist. Under the direction of Medical Director Hans Kersten, MD, each patient is evaluated by the multidisciplinary team. In order to address the multiple medical and psychosocial issues that cause FTT, a comprehensive treatment plan is developed to improve nutrition and promote growth for the child and family. Patients are followed up with accordingly.
The Grow Clinic opened in March 2005 because of a generous grant from the Claneil Foundation, and currently cares for over 300 children in partnership with the children's parents and caregivers.
Children are referred to the Grow Clinic if they meet one of the following criteria:
1. Weight declines two major percentages over 6 months time
2. Height/weight ratio falls below 5 percent for age
3. Weight < 3 percent for age on two occasions
4. Weight < 80 percent of ideal weight for age
The Grow Clinic has received a grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics to start the Working Group for Early Childhood Nutrition. They are working with agencies such as the Department of Human Services, Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, and the Philadelphia Department of Health to create a coordinated approach to recognizing and preventing underweight and malnutrition in very young children in Philadelphia. The Grow Team is also spearheading a working group to educate providers about FTT and develop a coordinated approach to childhood nutrition throughout the Philadelphia region.
Using Our Services
The first visit at the Grow Clinic involves a comprehensive exam by each member of the Grow Clinic Team. The initial exam may take up to two hours while the family meets with each professional. A diet history is taken, patients are weighed and measured and any pertinent labs are taken. The social worker may schedule a home visit with the family for a future date to better observe the child in his or her natural surroundings. Speech, occupational therapy or early intervention may be prescribed, and the social worker will help families access those services.
During the first visit, a feeding observation may also be done in our clinic. The caregiver would need to bring a meal for the patient to eat and we would observe the caregiver-child feeding interactions. This is not done at the initial visit for every patient and the family will be notified well in advance if a feeding observation will need to be completed.
Referrals and insurance are not necessary to be seen at the Grow Clinic. For more information, call (215) 427-GROW (4769) or visit our website.
St. Christopher's is Helping to Reduce Hunger
St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is dedicated to helping reduce hunger and malnutrition in children. For more information and ways you can help, please read the two documents below:
Meet the Team
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia has a highly qualified team of board-certified experts who are specially trained to work with the individual and unique needs of infants and pediatric patients.