Weight gain in FASD

Hi our dd now aged 8 1/2 years old, was diagnosed with fasd last Dec with additional trauma on top, she is adopted, which makes the presenting picture quite complex.

She doesn't however seem to have the memory/recall or school work problems like a lot do, her main worrying problems are behavioural, which are extreme and very challenging at times, frequently requiring restraining at school due to risk to self and others and also runs off.

She currently weighs 31kg and is 129cm, she seems to of put on weight more so in the last 12 months and always seems to be hungry and asking for food, which is a relatively new feature, I'm concerned her weight will keep increasing and we try to be healthy as much as possible, heathy snacks and well balanced meals, she uses her trampoline before and after school, but that's about it, walks tend to result in meltdown or just refusal.

Is weight gain common in fasd?


11 Replies

  • Hi Tatty43

    I don't know if the weight gain / continuously wanting food is related to FASD, or not.

    But I would be interested to find out if this is so.

    Our AD also has an endless desire for food and she is slightly above average weight. We do have set snack and meal times, but she is continually asking for food in between these times.

    Anyway, as we have been told by the OT that she has sensory processing disorder, it seems as though the desire to eat might actually be a need to chew something (rather than needing food).

    We've learned from the OT that chewing can help to regulate stress and generally to help a child calm down. Our DD is often dysregulated - does yours show this too?

    With this in mind, we've taken ideas from a book "Understanding your child's sensory signals" by Angie Voss for a whole range of sensory issues.

    We use sugar free chewing gum for our DD to chew on, and I limit this to no more than 3 in 24 hours. And our DD seems happy to chew on any soft plastic thing, or a cloth napkin, the ear of a soft toy (!), or anything really which isn't going to break and be swallowed accidentally.

    This has helped to stop her eating as much as she would like!

    Have you asked the Paediatrician or OT about sensory processing disorder? It might be worth finding out if your DD has this.

  • Thanks for replying wildPoppies, we are awaiting a sensory assessment to determine her sensory needs, it will be interesting to find out the outcome. I hadn't thought of it as a sensory issue, but my dd is the same with chewing too, she loves chewing gum, think I need to get a regular supply in.

    I'm not sure she receives the 'I'm full and stop eating' signal either as she has issues with body temperature too.

  • Hello in short yes it can be.

    sometimes it is the part of the brain that tells you your full that is not working properly. we have a little girl who is affected that way

  • We have the opposite - she eats very little and seems to have no appetite - I guess the brain is damaged so it can go either way.

  • With a BMI of 18.6 your daughter is at the very bottom of the normal range, so I really wouldn't be worrying about weight gain. Failure to grow and thrive is common in FASD kids, I haven't heard or read about the opposite at all.

    The challenging behaviours are, unfortunately, part of FASD and require management through calm, collected intervention. It's very hard to deal with, but finding ways to help her through meltdowns back to a better place is very, very important.

    The FASD trust and other organisations have good resources on this, and can help out directly with advice.

  • Your daughter sounds like mine to look at her she's like any other 13 year old but she will go for calm to manic in a second so we are always on high alert. She used to eat anything and everything but in the last year she will. Not eat a good meal but will pick rubbish all day .the other thing we have is pmt with bells on she is horrible for over a week !

  • Good Morning,

    Yes absolutely, eating issues go hand in hand with FASD, we have two who have no idea when they are hungry or thirsty. However one of them has days when he can't stop eating. In fact our social worker told us that many FAS children cram food to the extent that they choke. Added to this is the possibility of addictive behaviour as both parents were serious users - this is a personal opinion.

    Sending you all a high five for being amazing parents

  • faslink.org/FASbook2.pdf

    This is quite a long document but if you skim through to round about page 18, here is a bit about adolescence and how FAS children often change from being underweight to having problems with weight gain when they reach adolescence, especially girls.

    I know your daughter is still only 8 though. could she just be going to have a growth spurt? My little brother - non-adopted and neurotypical got very very chubby at that age....tall and skinny 31 year old now!

  • Thanks all for your comments very useful, her BMI however isn't that low, her weight is 4stone 12pounds and she is 129cms with puts her on the 85th percentile which is the top end not the.bottom end of normal. I am not unduly concerned about her weight, as I can manage that with healthy snacks etc, it was more trying to understand her constant need for food, and yes she could also be going through a growth spurt and preparing for puberty, I shall have a read of the article too, thank you, I also like the idea of set snack times too, which I'm going to try. X

  • Kids with FASD either eat all day or are never hungry / really picky eaters. Weight gain for girls around puberty is "normal". Two really good books are The Out of Sync Child, and FASD Parenting a child with an invisible disability. fasdtrust.co.uk/news_item.p...

  • Thank you will have a look at these books

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