What are the causes and symptoms of the disease kwashiorkor ?

Deficiency in proteins, carbohydrates and fats cause protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). It is the most important nutritional disorder particularly found in most of the Indian children in the age group of 1-5 years. Kwashiorkor is a failure of the body growth both in height and weight. It develops when babies are changed from protein rich breast milk to any other food deficient in protein and energy. There may be a number of causes of this nutritional disorder, which may be –


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1. Acute energy.

2. Ignorance and negligence on the part of parents about the health and nutritional values.


3. Very poor nurshing diet to the feeding mother.

4. Frequent pregnancy resulting in premature deprivation of mother’s milk.

The disease can be very easily detected in children. It makes children listless and miserable. The skin cracks and becomes scaly, their abdomen swells and hair become reddish. To overcome this PEM, the parents should widely space the children and continue to breast feed as long as possible. The proteins rich balanced diet in semi liquid state should be given to such children.

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