European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 93–100 | Cite as

Changes in psychopathology of parents of NOFT (non-organic failure to thrive) infants during treatment

  • M. Duniz
  • P. J. Scheer
  • A. Trojovsky
  • W. Kaschnitz
  • E. Kvas
  • S. Macari
Original Contributions


This clinical case-study of 50 infants suffering from NOFT (non-organic failure to thrive) and their parents supports the idea that the feeding problem is intimately related to parental disorders. We find a high rate (70%) of parental psychopathology (axis I diagnosis applying DSM-III-R) at the time of referral and a significant reduction (to 37%) during treatment of the infants and their parents. After a year only 12% of the parents were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. In contrast personality disorders (axis II diagnosis applying DSM-III-R) show more stability and can be regarded as a trait variable, whereas the psychiatric disorders are of a more reactive nature. These conclusions may be influenced somewhat by the strictly hospital based design of our pilot study (infants and parents contacted only after clinical referral) and by inclusion only of firstborn infants. Nevertheless, they point to the psychopathology of parents as a main cause for non-organic failure to thrive. Psychopathological traits such as severe attachment behavior problems and primary bonding difficulties may have been latent and only became manifest due to the task of nurturing an infant for the first time.

Key words

Infancy failure to thrive parents psychopathology 



failure to thrive


non-organic failure to thrive


ZERO TO THREE: Diagnostic Classification of the National Centers for Clinical Infant Programs


Cole's Index=body weight for length in % adjusted for age


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Duniz
    • 1
  • P. J. Scheer
    • 1
  • A. Trojovsky
    • 1
  • W. Kaschnitz
    • 1
  • E. Kvas
    • 1
  • S. Macari
    • 1
  1. 1.Pädiatrische Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie Dept. für allg. PädiatrieUniv.-Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendheilkunde Landeskrankenhaus GrazGrazÖsterreich

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