Marasmus in Aid Orphans

Marasmus is one of the three forms of serious protein-energy malnutrition. The other two are kwashiorkor and marasmic KW. These forms of serious protein-energy malnutrition represent a group of pathologic conditions associated with a nutritional and energy deficit occurring mainly in young children from developing countries at the time weaning. They are frequently associated with infections, mainly gastrointestinal infections.

Marasmus is a serious worldwide problem. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 49% of the 10.4 million deaths occurring in children younger than 5 years in developing countries are associated with protein-energy malnutrition. Malnutrition has been a permanent priority of the World Health Organisation for decades. Although protein-energy malnutrition occurs more frequently in low-income countries, numerous children from higher-income countries area affected, including children from large urban areas and low socioeconomic status, children with chronic disease, and children who are institutionalized.

According to the World Health Organisation, 150 million children aged 5 years or younger have protein-energy malnutrition, not only in mortality but also in morbidity and suboptimal neurological development. The social and economic implications of protein-energy malnutrition and its complications are incalculable.

Six million children younger than 5 years die every year of malnutrition. Approximately 70 million present with wasting, and 230 million present with some stunting. Fifty percent of the children in Asia are malnourished, 30% are malnourished in Africa, and 20% are malnourished in Latin America

No racial predilection exists in the prevalence of malnutrition, but a strong association exists with the geographic distribution of poverty

No sexual predilections exist, although, in some parts of the world, cultural practices place girls at a disadvantage for protein-energy malnutrition

Marasmus is more frequent in children younger than 5 years because this period is characterized by increased energy needs and increased susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections. Weaning, which occurs during this period, is often complicated by factors such as geography, economy, hygiene, public health, and culture and dietetics




  • Maria Rebello Mascarenhas, MBBS, Director of Nutrition Support Service, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia;
  • Robert Konop, PharmD, Director, Clinical Account Management, Ancillary Care Management;
  • Jatinder Bhatia, MD, Chief, Professor, Department of Pediatricts, Section of Neonatology, Medical College of Georgia;
  • Merrily Poth, MD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences;
  • Steven M Altschuler, MD, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia