Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition. It occurs when you don’t have enough protein in your diet. It is the most common nutritional disorder in developing countries. Children with Kwashiorkor may not grow or develop properly. It may be life threatening if not treated .


It is caused by not having enough protein in your diet. It is common in children in Africa and Central America. It is also common in developing countries where there is

  • famine
  • limited food supply
  • low levels of eduction

It usually occurs during political unrest, natural disasters or drought. Thee conditions may lead to lack of food which in turn leads to malnutrition.

Kwashiorkor is very rare in the united states. If it does occur, it is usually a sign  of child abuse or severe neglect.


Symptoms of kwashiorkor includes the following :

  • large belly that sticks out
  • failure to grow or gain eight
  • fatigue
  • changes in skin pigment
  • diarrhea
  • hair changes
  • irritability
  • flaky rash
  • loss of muscle mass
  • swelling
  • lethargy
  • shock which occurs in the latter stages of kwashiorkor


A physical exam may reveal an enlarged liver and well as edema (swelling). Your doctor may also order the following tests.


Kwashiorkor can be corrected by including more protein and calories in your diet. This is helpful if treatment is started early. You will be given more calories in the form of carbohydrates, sugar and fats to give you energy. You will then be given protein rich foods. Giving of calories is done slowly because your body needs to adjust since you have been without food for a while.

Your doctor may also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements.


Possible complication of kwashiorkor includes

  • coma
  • permanent and physical disability
  • shock


You can prevent kwashiorkor by eating enough carbohydrates and protein rich foods. These  include fat (at least 10 percent of total calories) and protein (12 percent of total calories).


What is kwashiorkor. Healthline Networks.

Kwashiorkor. NHS choices.

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved April 2014 from website.


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