Unintentional Weight Loss in Children

A lot of things can cause unintentional weight loss for children. These include thyroid problems, eating disorders, illness, and metabolism conditions.

Weight loss in children with each of these problems can have adverse effects on their overall development and health. Consult your doctor if you suspect drastic weight loss in your child.

Identification of unintentional weight loss in children

Your child’s eating habits and routine are important in identifying unintentional weight loss.

You must inform your physician if you notice that your child has lost more than 5% of his body weight within the course of a few weeks. You can also evaluate your child for other small changes such as mouth sores, loose teeth, a loss of appetite due to behavioral issues or depression, or complaints of pain or illness. Any of these could all play a part in your child’s unintentional weight loss.

Symptoms of unintentional weight loss in children

The weight changes are not the only symptoms your child may have; the underlying symptom may be an illness or health issue. Many symptoms of these illnesses include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, sore throat, decreased urination, and feeling overly tired. Your doctor will need to evaluate your child personally if you suspect your child is displaying any of these conditions.

Possible Causes of unintentional weight loss in children

Several health conditions could cause unintentional weight loss in children. These that lead to this loss include gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, depression, attention problems, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and changes in medication.

To discover the cause of your child’s weight loss issues, it is important to discuss all of these possibilities with your medical practitioner.

Childhood Cancer: An uncommon cause

Several childhood cancers seem to affect children, which should be considered a possibility for unintentional weight loss.

Among the cancer types diagnosed this year are neuroblastoma and leukemia in one to two out of every 10,000 children in the United States.

Symptoms common to cancer patients include persistent pain, lumps, frequent headaches, nausea, and vision changes. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms suddenly, you should contact your pediatrician. Further diagnosis should be sought from your doctor.

For more read our article: Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma or Lymphatic cancer in children.

Potential Health Problems

It could be difficult for your child to gain weight if she goes untreated with her unexplained weight loss because there could be health risks involved. Her malnutrition could be caused by not getting enough vitamins and minerals necessary to survive.


Unintentional weight loss differs from child to child so a child’s treatment varies. Once your child’s doctor determines the real problem behind the loss of weight, he will proceed with a suggested plan.

If you follow his recommendations, your child may have an increased calorie intake, changes in activities, or supplements, all of which may significantly impact their overall health and weight.

If your child is diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer, he might require more aggressive treatments such as intensive radiation or chemotherapy.


Drugs.com: Unexplained Weight Loss in Children

Mayo Clinic: Unexplained Weight Loss