Kwashiorkor

Alternative Names

Protein malnutrition; Protein-calorie malnutrition; Malignant malnutrition

Definition of Kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition that occurs when there is not enough protein in the diet.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Kwashiorkor is most common in areas where there is:

Signs and tests

The physical examination may show an enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) and general swelling.

Treatment

Getting more calories and protein will correct kwashiorkor, if treatment is started early enough. However, children who have had this condition will never reach their full potential for height and growth.

Expectations (prognosis)

Getting treatment early generally leads to good results. Treating kwashiorkor in its late stages will improve the child’s general health. However, the child may be left with permanent physical and mental problems. If treatment is not given or comes too late, this condition is life-threatening.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 1/29/2010

Kwashiorkor symptoms

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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