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Diseases » Marasmus » Wikipedia

Marasmus in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Marasmus". (Source - Retrieved 2006-09-07 14:09:32 from


Marasmus is a form of severe protein-energy malnutrition characterised by calorie deficiency and energy deficiency. Some other PEMs are kwashiorkor and cachexia (the most common one in the developed world).

A child with marasmus looks emaciated and the body weight may reduce to less than 80% of the normal weight for that height.

The signs are common characteristics of protein-energy malnutrition: dry skin, loose skin folds hanging over the glutei, axillae, etc. Drastic loss of adipose tissue from normal areas of fat deposits like buttocks and thighs. The afflicted are often fretful, irritable, and voraciously hungry. There may be alternate bands of pigmented and depigmented hair (flag sign), or flaky paint appearance of skin due to peeling.

It is essential to treat not only the symptoms but also the complications of the disorder like infections, dehydration and circulation disorders, which are frequently lethal and lead to high mortality if ignored.

Folk medicine

In some parts of Mozambique, Marasmus is thought to be caused by a malignant spirit sitting on the chest of a child. The only effective way for the child to be cured is to send him or her to live with the local witch doctor for a period of about two weeks.


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