It is really disturbing to see that there are people who still are not getting enough food to eat, enough nutrition to survive. It is really shameful to know that there are still people in our world who die out of starvation. The existence of a condition like Marasmus, which is a severe form of malnutrition, is really a shame and an insult for the so called modern world today. We have advanced in all realms, like technology, medicine, finance, etc etc etc, but still we have people in our own world dying due to lack of food, a basic need of life.
A well balanced, healthy and nutritional diet is most important to treat or prevent marasmus. Carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins and vitamins, all are essential dietary nutrients which are absolutely necessary for overall growth of the human body. All these nutrients provide energy for the various metabolic processes.
The main purpose of the diet therapy for marasmus is to provide the body with the essential nutritional requirements. The nutritional needs of infants and children in the rehabilitation stage require at least 200 kilocalories per kilogram per day.
Dehydration is another important health issue which needs to be addressed with oral rehydration therapy. Also, drink plenty of water, fruit juices and vegetable soups.
Micronutrient deficiencies, such as minerals, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C deficiency, require supplementation.
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All types of breads, food grains such as wheat, rice, sorghum, maize contains ample amount of carbohydrates. Vegetables and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fresh citrus fruits, barley, oatmeal and bran are the rich source of carbohydrates.
Pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, soy and soy products, dairy and dairy products are great source of proteins.
To compensate fat deficiency, include vegetable oil such as coconut oil, groundnut oil, palm oil, ghee, butter, in the diet. Avoid eating junk food, fast food and oily food as it doesn’t contain any nutrients.
There are several serious complications associated with malnutrition or Marasmus in the infants and children. Poor nutrition can result in retarded growth. Some of the most serious complications of Marasmus may include:
- Retarded growth
- Deformity of limbs and destruction of joints
- Loss of vision or blindness
- Multiple organ dysfunction or failure
- Lack of consciousness
- Hypo – pigmentation
- Weak muscles
- Low immunity
- Low red cell production
- Electrolyte imbalance, potassium deficiency
- Heart failure due to weak heart
- Bleeding, purpura
- Serious infections, especially septicaemia, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, Tuberculosis, measles and AIDS
Some of the complications may cause permanent or long-term damage that causes developmental issues. In case of extensive iron deficiency, anemia and extensive retarded growth, patients may suffer from permanent impaired mental and physical development. The consequences are devastating and long-term if the patient is very young. In several cases, lack of treatment can even result in the death of a patient. Complications are usually serious among infants and young children since they are the most common sufferers. Lack of proper nutrition can result in many developmental issues both physical and mental.
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Marasmus can also affect various system in the body, including the endocrine system, hematopoietic, immune system, cardiovascular system, central nervous system and digestive system.
About 25% of children with Marasmus die despite of getting proper treatment. The long-lasting effect of severe poor nutrition on growth and mental development remain unknown as some children are also affected by a deprived environment.
Hypoglycaemia, hypothermia, severe infection and heart failure are the major causes of death in severe malnutrition.
Children with marasmus have a low serum albumin, potassium, magnesium, sodium, copper and zinc, apart from low glucose, transferrin and clotting factors.
Marasmus and kwashiorkor difference
Kwashiorkor and Marasmus both fall in the category of malnutrition due to insufficient intake of nutrients in the diet. Kwashiorkor and marasmus can be distinguished mainly on the basis of their causes, symptoms and treatment.
- Marasmus is a type of malnutrition that occurs due to deficiency of carbohydrates, protein and fats in the diet.
- The symptoms of Marasmus include skin peeling, pigmented skin, hair loss, edema, swelling and skin folds.
- The primary cause of Marasmus is failed breastfeeding, inadequate intake of protein and suffering from disease like diarrhea.
- Children suffering from Marasmus doesn’t have bloated bellies.
- Marasmus affects the children below the age of 1 year.
- This disease is more common in towns and cities.
- In Marasmus, wasting of muscles is quite evident. The child becomes skinny.
- Skin does not change color and does not break.
- Marasmus can be curbed by a nutritious, well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits leafy vegetables, grains, vitamin B and protein.
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- It is a type of malnutrition that is most often found in children which occurs due to protein insufficiency irrespective of the amount of calories intake
- The main symptoms of Kwashiorkor include large belly, diarrhea, change in skin color, decreased muscle mass, weight loss and stunted grow, fatigue and hair changes.
- It affects the children who are deprived of mother’s milk. Another cause is low protein diet.
- Children suffering from Kwashiorkor tend to have bloated bellies
- Kwashiorkor occurs in the children of the age group 1-5 years.
- The disease is more common in villages
- In kwashiorkor, wasting of muscles is not evident.
- Skin changes color and become broken and scaly.
- Kwarshiorkor can be treated by addition of protein in the diet, usually in the form of dry milk. The treatment includes a nutritious diet where protein contributes at least 12% of the calories and 10% calories comes from fat and carbohydrates.