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Difference Between Kwashiorkor and Marasmus

marasmusKwashiorkor vs Marasmus

Both marasmus and kwashiorkor are diseases that arise due to an inadequate diet and starvation. There are subtle differences between the two conditions. Let us take a look at what they are:


A kid who is suffering from marasmus can be identified at a glance. He will have dry and lose skin hanging over the glutei. The child loses adipose or fat tissue from normal areas of the body like the buttocks and the thighs. The child is usually irritable and has an exceptionally strong appetite. The child also has alternated layers of non pigmented or pigmented hair.

A patient with kwashiorkor suffers from damaged absorption. He may also display abnormal burns, nephrosis or a chronic liver disease. The child may also suffer from loss of muscular mass, edema or other immunodeficiency symptoms. The child also suffers from vomiting, infections and diarrhea.


Marasmus is caused by a severe nutritional deficiency in general. It is usually found in very young infants and very young children. It can be prevented by breastfeeding. It is actually caused by the total or partial lack of nutritional elements in the food over a period of time.

Kwashiorkor is actually the result of a lack of protein in the diet. It is different from marasmus, which is a total lack of nutrition in the diet. The term kwashiorkor is derived from an African term which means ‘first- second child’. This is because it usually affects children who are weaned away because of the birth of a second child.

Who does it affect?

Due to the reason behind the condition, marasmus usually affects very young children. However, kwashiorkor affects slightly older children.

Kwashiorkor is usually rampant in those parts of the world where babies become deficient in proteins because of their weaning habits. The diets do not lack in calories as is typical in children suffering from marasmus. It is found in third world countries suffering from starvation. However, it can affect anyone who suffers from a lack of protein in the diet, and an excess of carbohydrates.


Kwashiorkor is usually treated with the addition of protein in the diet, usually in the form of dried milk. It also includes a nutritious diet where at least 12% of the calories come from protein and 10% from fat.
Marasmus is usually treated by adding vitamin B and following a nutritious diet in general.

1. Marasmus patients suffer from a peeling and alternately pigmented skin. Kwashiorkor patients are characterized by a distended stomach, burns on the skin and diarrhea.
2. Marasmus affects kids because of a lack of nutritional elements in the diet. Kwashiorkor affects kids who do not receive enough protein in the diet.
3. Marasmus affects infants and very young kids. Kwashiorkor affects kids who are a bit older.
4. Marasmus patients need to be treated with additional doses of vitamin B and a nutritious diet. Kwashiorkor patients are treated by adding more protein in their diet.

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  1. thanks for ur information.
    but, how about the prevalence of kwashiorkor and marasmus?
    i need ur answer, thx 😀

  2. The write up is ok but i need the differences of kwashiorkor & marasmus in the tabular form tanz.

  3. Thanks so much for the write up it will have been better if the differences were put in a tabular form.

  4. nice and comprehensive write up

  5. What is the importance of vitamin B in a marasimic child

  6. Thanks but please do well by puting it in a tabular form

  7. I need full information of kwashiorkor and marasmus

  8. i found this article very useful
    thank u

  9. It is a very good write up but even better if written in a tabular form….but thanks anyway, I get the idea on the topic…Thanx

  10. Tnx 4 d write-up. It is very helpful.

  11. Thanks for the article. I found it very helpful.

  12. it is most helpful technology I appreciated that.

  13. What is the evidence/peer reviewed reference that you received this data from?

  14. The notes is good and nice explanation
    short and clear
    thanks for that

  15. Could you tell me why does not apathy occur marasmus, unlike kwashiorkor?
    I need your answer , and thank you.

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