Kwashiorkor: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Kwashiorkor is a disease that is caused by severe malnutrition. It mostly affects children. It is one that seems to be prevalent in nations that are not fully developed yet, because where famine is quite common.

People who live in more highly industrialized nations such as the United States, Canada, or France may just simply refer to Kwashiorkor as “malnutrition.” Mainly this disease is the physical manifestation of starvation, which occurs over an extended period-or for way to long by most peoples’ standards!

About Its Discovery

Kwashiorkor was first discovered in the 1930s while studies in Ghana were being conducted. It is learned that the longer this condition remains untreated the worse the problem gets. The identification of this condition, however, was one of the milestones of putting a stop to it.

At first, this condition causes severe physical disabilities. A breakdown of the immune system also takes place, and sadly in the worse case scenario even innocent children end up dying from this condition.

Since then, major efforts have been made to be able to address this problem. A variety of medical and nutritional efforts is currently being made. Much of this is made possible via the support of generous donations from people who live around the world.

Further Explanation

This condition is identified by a variety of attributes. One of the most evident of these of course is a protein deficiency, which of course leads to muscle deficiency. This may not take place while a mother is breastfeeding provided she is fed well during pregnancy.

However, as a child becomes old enough to eat solid food he or she cannot survive on milk alone. That of course is very obvious. The amino acids present in breast milk can only sustain a child for so long.

One of the main reasons for protein deficiency (of course) is diet. People in financial poor countries eat mostly starchy foods such as rice or bread. They often do not take in the fruits and vegetables needed by the body to sustain it.

To make a long story short they do not receive enough variety of nutrients because they are not eating enough of a variety of foods. This can be a major problem.

Kwashiork Symptoms

Signs of this advanced stage of malnutrition include the following:

  • Swollen belly and accumulated body fluids
  • Lethargy,
  • Decelerated growth
  • Blood issues such as anemia
  • Premature hair loss
  • Eventually severe illness or death


Proper diet is really the only way to avoid this problem from occurring, and the main way to treat it. Hopefully, children-and even adults-can be saved before this condition breaks down the entire immune system.

Otherwise, affect individuals could become susceptible to a wide variety of sicknesses and diseases. The reason why is because when a person is not eating the right foods the body’s ability to defend itself against attack of illness is diminished.

Of course, if at all possible it is best if the world continues to reach out to children who are starving. Otherwise, they will eventually starve to death.

Useful References

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