Unexplained Weight Loss in Children and Teens

Weight loss in children is always concerning. The only exception is when overweight children lose weight under a doctor's supervision.

Any unexplained weight loss in a child warrants a call to the doctor. This decision guide does not replace that call and should not delay it, but will give you an idea of some of the questions the doctor will have, and what tests or treatments may be ordered.

Children lose weight when they are either not getting enough calories or are burning up more calories than usual due to illness or other reasons. Let's look at the possible causes of weight loss in your child.

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Along with the weight loss, does your child have any of the following?

- Fever

- Vomiting and/or diarrhea

- Cough, sore throat, ear pain or chest pain

- Decreased urination

- Increased sleepiness

No, my child does not have any of these.

Yes, my child has one or more of these.

Call your doctor now.

Illness is one of the most common reasons for weight loss in children, both because the fever burns up extra calories, and because children eat less when they are sick.

However, any illness that is serious enough to cause weight loss warrants being checked by a doctor. He or she will decide if further tests or treatments are needed.

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