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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Inability to Gain Weight

 rvv - Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:09 pm

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been tiny. Now I''m 19, 5 feet tall and weight around 86 pounds. Before I was diagnosed I used to weight 95 pounds. I was diagnosed with GERD and acid reflux last year. The doctor says that my weight loss is most likely from the severe acid reflux I had in the past but I don't know why it's so hard for me to gain weight. Before I was diagnosed with GERD it used to take me a year just to gain 2 to 4 pounds. I also have thalessemia minor so I have my blood checked about every 6 months but other than having a little bit of anemia the results are always normal. I'm taking Centrum vitamins and drinking at least 1 Ensure Plus shake every day. I wanted to know if there are any other suggestions that I could try to help me gain weight. My goal is to weigh in between 95 and 100 pounds with steady weight gain every month.
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:20 pm

User avatar Hi,
It is extremely difficult to give you a straight answer to your query.
However, i will try to provide information gleaned from some of the available work in the literature that has tried to elucidate the reasons behind weight loss observed in some patients with thalassemias.

Growth delay in many children with β-thalassemia major is well known.

Growth retardation in children with β-thalassemia major apppears to be multifactorial. Some etiologies described for this condition are hemochromatosis, disturbed growth hormone (GH) / insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis, undernutrition and hypermetabolism.

One study had tried to evaluate the IGF-1 levels in children with thalassemia minor. It was noted that IGF-1 levels were low in carriers of β-thalassemia gene when compared with normal children.Ten percent of these children had short stature (height for age below 3rd percentile and 4% had weight for age below the 3rd percentile). Similar results have been observed by other workers in thalassemia major patients.
The authors conclude that some etiologies other than those described to date for growth retardation in β-thalassemia major may exist that can be transformed by genes, whether expressed or not.
Similar to patients with thalassemia major, IGF-1 levels in β-thalassemia minor children are also lower than in normal children
(Turk J Hematol 2008; 25: 136-9)

In one other study on thalassemia minor subjects, short stature was significantly more prevalent, which is similar to that observed in patients with thalassemia major.
(Karimi M, Karamifar HA. Short stature in beta-thalassemia minor subjects. Med Sci Monit 2004; 10: CR603-5).

In the light of the foregoing observations, you may discuss with your doctor the option of having your IGF-1 and growth hormone levels checked.
Best wishes!

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