Marasmus Malnutrition | Symptoms, Causes, Preventive

Marasmus is a severe form of malnutrition that consists of the chronic wasting of facts, muscles, and other tissues in the body. Malnutrition occurs when your body does not get enough protein and carbohydrates. This lack of nutrition can be from a shortage of certain vitamins to complete starvation. Marasmus is one of the most serious forms of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) in the world.

Marasmus is a serious problem. It is most common in children in developing regions, such as Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. It is caused because of poverty; inadequate food supplies, famine, and contaminated water, etc. are prevalent. Contaminated water may contain bacteria or parasites that enter the body when the water consumed and cause infections that complicate the condition.

maramus in children

Marasmus can be caused by chronic diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, and rapid weight loss. If the disease is caused by poor nutrition, then a change in diet should be enough to correct the problem or prevent a recurrence.

Symptoms Of Marasmus

The symptoms of marasmus depend upon the degree of malnutrition. There are many symptoms of marasmus malnutrition. A child with the condition of underweight is the main symptom of Marasmus. Children who have lost plenty of muscles and subcutaneous fat can suffer from marasmus. The dry skin and brittle hair of a kid can also show the condition of marasmus.

Following are some of the symptoms of marasmus.

  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Severe weight loss
  • Change in level of consciousness
  • Paralysis of legs
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Prolonged vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Delay in the healing of wounds
  • Distended abdomen
  • Growth retardation
  • Loose skin folds

The children who are seriously suffered from marasmus may look older and have very little energy no enthusiasm for activities. Marasmus can make the children irritable and fatigue but these are more general symptoms of Kwashiorkor.

Kwashiorkor is another serious nutrition disorder commnly seen in kids more than adults. To read more about Kwashiorker »

Causes of Marasmus

Deficiency of nutrients in the body is the primary cause of marasmus. A child who don’t get enough breast feed, iron, protein, iodine, carbhohydrates, calories can get marasmus due to malnutrition. Poverty, Scaracity of food and drinking water and less medical care are seed of marasmus.

There are various types of malnutrition caused by a lack of food and nutrients. A child can have other types of malnutrition other than marasmus. Some of the specific causes of marasmus are:

  • Poverty
  • Inadequate food supplies
  • Contaminated water
  • Deficiency of vitamin A, E, and K
  • Poor and unbalanced diet
Marasmus care baby

Preventive Measures

Some of the treatments for Marasmus are:

  • The child should be provided Vitamin B5 treatment.
  • Treatment for dehydration should be provided.
  • Treatment for any infections and communicable diseases should be provided without delay.
  • Solid food should be provided along with breastfeeding after six months.
  • The patient should be provided with the required proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats.

What are the risk factors of marasmus?

Marasmus is directly proportional to poverty and nutrition. Countries having high poverty rates have very risk of marasmus. Areas with scaracity of food, water have very high percentages of childres affected with marasmus. If a mather is malnutrilized then she cannot produce enough breast milk to their babies. This is also a very risk factors of marasms to a baby.

If a baby caught by viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections then their nutrients will become insufficient for proper growth and the child goes on the risk of marasmus. Those areas where there is a high disease rate and lack of medical care are also risk factors of marasmus.

How is marasmus identified?

As marasmus shows its symptoms on the physical body so, doctors can primarily recognize marasmus through physical examination. Doctors can measure height, weight with respect to the age to diagnose marasmus in a child. If the results of measurements and are very below that tests of a healthy child of the same age, doctors confirm marasmus.

Secondarily, if a child is now growing normally with some physical defects, lack of energy, lack of motion will help to identify the marasmus. These children cannot do their activities in the normal way.

Does marasmus can be diagnose with blood tests?

No, it is very difficult to identify marasmus using blood tests. Sometimes a child with marasmus can also have other infections which affect blood test results.

Treatment of marasmus

Marasmus is a nutrition disorder and it should be treated. In the beginning, the child has to take dried skim milk mixed with boiled water. When the child indulges the milk, he/she is fed vegetables mixed with sesame, casein, and sugar. Refeeding must be done to escape refeeding syndrome in a child.

The main focus should be done on a balanced diet when a child starts recovering. If a child is facing any infections then it should be treated with antibiotics or other doctors’ prescription. The most serious condition takes place when the child goes to the point of no return when the body’s ability for protein synthesis is lost. In this condition of malnutrition, the child must be given proper food and protein.


Breastfeeding should be done minimum of 6 months. Mothers should feed breast milk to their babies for 2 years. Children should be introduced to other diet foods after six months. When a child indulges family food then he/she must feed high nutrients food. Proper health care should be given if a child caught by any diseases or infections. These habits can lead to no Marasmus.

breastfeeding to fight marasmus
additional supplements to kids

But, all the people, regions cannot facilitate child with proper food and balance diet. All mothers may not feed milk for 6 months. In this condition, the child must feed enough supplements with donor milk or formula under the guidance of medical professionals. This child also has to be introduced to little home food rich in carbohydrates, iodine, protein, and iron. These all help this world to be free from marasmus.

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