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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Small/thin 8 year old has lost weight and is now underweight. Help!

(15 Posts)
SomethingFunny Thu 25-Jun-15 12:51:23

My 8 year old son has always been short and skinny (he was born averGe, but quickly went down the percentiles and has stayed at the bottom ever since).

However, I weighed him this morning and he appears to have lost 0.3kg since Christmas (so in the last 6 months). Whilst this probably isn't a significant amount, surely he should have put on weight? He has gained 1kg in the last year. He has also grown 8cm in the last year. When I put his weight and height into the NHS BMI site, he was a "healthy weight".. Just. If he weighed just 0.1kg less or was 1cm he is classed as underweight. He is on the 2nd centile for weight and just above the 9th for height.

Whilst my tape measure and scales could be wrong (he hasn't been measured by a health professional since the reception check up about 3 years ago) they are the same tape measure and scales I used previously.

I am quite concerned that he has lost weight (especially as he has very little to loose). He eats well and doesn't exercise that much (walks to school, swimming lessons and a after school PE club). I know it's a bad idea but I just googled weight loss in children and it mentioned cancer so I am a bit scad now. I know I need to take him to the doctor to get his weight/height double checked. Should I be panicking in the meantime?

(As an aside, it was very hard to find anything helpful about weight loss when googling as everything seemed to be about overweight children)

SomethingFunny Thu 25-Jun-15 12:53:22

Just realised I forgot to put his actual measurements:

He's 8 years old, 121cm tall and weighs 19.6kg

DeeWe Fri 26-Jun-15 13:38:22

Has he been ill in that time?

Dd1 (who was always on the 75%+ centiles for weight and height) had pneumonia when she was 8yo. She had to be weighed for medication and we found she'd lost weight from the last time she had been weighed two years previously.

She was checked out by the doctor for about a year to check she was putting on weight.
However she continued on the 25% for height and weight since then, so our conclusion was that she just naturally was tall at first, and then didn't grow so much after that.
I think she had lost due to illness, but also she wouldn't have put on as she wasn't growing as much even if she hadn't been ill.

LatinForTelly Sat 27-Jun-15 00:46:14

Bizarrely, those measurements are almost exactly my son's - but he has had a medical condition from birth and is closely monitored.

I would go to the gp to be honest. I think these figures warrant further investigation.

In my totally non-medical opinion, I think there are lots of less frightening things it is more likely to be than cancer, so try not to worry too much. Good luck.

tobysmum77 Sat 27-Jun-15 08:45:54

I think you need to take him to gp purely for recheck of figures and because you are worried. My dd is 6 and weighs about that and is 118cm. She isnt the skinniest girl in her year though and is quite petite but solid ...... She eats mountains of food but is a child who never ever stops, and is usually found upside down.

I doubt its anything sinister and the underweight/ normal thing is pretty marginal.

SomethingFunny Sat 27-Jun-15 19:44:08

Thank you all for replying! He hasn't been ill. Actually he seems to be amazingly healthy and has only been off school ill for 3 days in the last 4 years, and two of those days were because of the 48 hour rule as he was sick once and the other because he had a fever and was a bit lethargic one morning but was fine by lunchtime. That must been a good sign surely!

I had a chat with DH and we decided to keep an eye on his weight for the next couple of weeks as well as trying to feed him a bit more. I will then take him to the doctors.

The measurement of 19.6kg was naked first thing in the morning on Thursday. We weighed him tonight after tea fully clothed and he weighed 20.6kg! So provided we weighed him fully clothed in the evening last time then he has put on 2kg in the last year, which is just about reasonable. This would be a gain of 0.7kg since christmas (if that was in the evening and fully clothed?). Who would have thought time of day and clothes could make a whole kg of difference! The other thing a friend pointed out was we weighed him on 28th December, so he would be massively bulked out with christmas food on that measurement!

However, he is still on the lighter side so I will get him checked out just to make sure anyway.

SomethingFunny Sat 27-Jun-15 19:47:44

Just to add- by checked out, I mean measured/weighed by the doctor. I don't want blood tests or anything unless the doctor thinks he needs them.

Ionone Sat 27-Jun-15 19:57:16

DD is also 8. She is taller than your son (128cm) and weighs roughly the same (19.5kg). She is in the best of health and hardly ever ill (has had one day off school so far this year).

I'd check it out to be on the safe side, but some children just are skinny.

VoldemortsNipple Sat 27-Jun-15 20:12:20

DS is 16 and has always been small and slim, between the first and fifth centile for weight. We went to see the GP last December as he was failing to gain weight with my efforts. GP gave us advice which I was already doing but it was the first step so fair enough. His BMI is 15.5 btw.

We now see a dietician and are getting supplements as well as the diet changes and he has put a little weight on. Here are some of the tips we've had.

Dairy products and milk should be full fat.
Eat small calorie rich meals little and often.
From a weight gain perspective, eat as much chocolate, biscuits and cereal bars as you want.

If your DS will drink them, smoothies made with milk or yoghurt are great and can have as much as 300-500 calories in one serving.

I encourage DS to drink a glass of milk rather than juice. He has a mid morning snack of a cereal bar and an afternoon snack of breakfast cereal with whole milk or those cheap noodles. He now has around 5-6 biscuit bars throughout the day and in his packed lunch. I don't always buy the leanest meat now, especially mince beef. Things like mayonnaise are also full fat and are great for packing extra calories in.

SomethingFunny Sat 27-Jun-15 20:37:47

Thank you both. I am sure he probably is fine, I was most concerned thinking he'd lost weight in the last 6 months, although he might not have done now I have re-weighed him.

I just found a rather bizarre article on the nhs website about how many calories he should be having- apparently he should be having 1,745 calories a day! Slightly shocking when my calorie intake is meant to be 1,787 calories according to the 5:2 diet people!! I am going to try and calculate his calorie intake now as I am pretty sure it is nothing like that shock

Ionone Sat 27-Jun-15 22:08:58

That seems a lot! I am sure my daughter takes in nowhere near that amount and there is no way I could make her eat more (and in any case, I am not sure encouraging anyone to eat more than they actually want is a good idea). I would reckon DD takes in something like 1200 calories a day on a really good eating day. Mostly more like 1000. She is not hungry, not asking for snacks constantly, not even generally that interested in pudding once she has eaten her main meal. She does get full fat yoghurt (won't drink milk) and lots of cheese and butter and olive oil etc.

I give her taramasalata rather than hoummous for dipping veggies etc (it is really really calorific). I add cheese to anything I can such as mash or pasta dishes (I don't think extra calcium ever did anyone any harm and it's also calorific), she gets puddings of eg fruit crumble with lots of whipped cream (more dairy as she won't have milk), and I always add a layer of cream cheese to any sandwich. I just try to make sure her meals are varied and that they are as filling and calorific as possible for the small volume that she will eat. I don't give her much sweet stuff as she has had tooth problems in the past and am keen to avoid this in future as her adult teeth are now coming in.

Do get it checked out, SomethingFunny, but I don't think it sounds that concerning.

As an aside, what is your and your DH's build like? I am quite old and only weigh just over 8 stone (no dieting and only really walking around as exercise) and DH weighs about 10 stone which isn't much for a man who does a v physical job. When I've had comments about DD's weight in the past from HVs etc, I have gently pointed out that we are two skinny people who have produced a skinny child and I'd be loads more concerned if she didn't take after us and was heading towards the other end of the scale!

tobysmum77 Sat 27-Jun-15 22:15:52

Mine eats as much as me or 1700 easily. It is beyond me where she puts it confused , even if she does have hollow legs there isn't much space in them.

Ionone Sat 27-Jun-15 22:30:34

I'd say mine eats about half as much as I do, and I am not restricting my calorie intake in any way except by appetite (nor is she). I eat the same meals as she does (including full-fat everything and cheese on everything) and am not especially active so I can't be eating much more than the 2000 or so calories a day we are meant to eat. I mean, I'm not putting on weight particularly.

SomethingFunny Sun 28-Jun-15 21:29:09

DH is fairly slim build- I think he was quite skinny until he met me and I made him happy. He falls about midway in the BMI healthy range.
I am not slim- was overweight as a child (according to my mums records, I was the same weight at 2 as my son was at age 6!). I'm not overweight anymore, although I have to work at it, naturally I tend to just fall into the overweight category.

I have planned him some extra food/ more filling food this week. Trying to bump up his breakfasts, offer him more filling teas and offer him suppers. Not to encourage him to eat when he is full, but to see if he'd fancy a bit of something/bit more of something instead of not offering him more/a snack if he didn't actually ask for one if that makes sense.

Thank you for all your responses, I am a little more reassured now.

SomethingFunny Sun 28-Jun-15 21:33:26

www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/how-many-calories-do-children-need.aspx?CategoryID=51

This is the link to the calories for each age on the NHS in case anyone else is interested.

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