- Wasting away, as occurs with children who have kwashiorkor. Also called cachexia, is usually a result of protein and calorie deficiency.
* * *Cachexia, especially in young children, primarily due to prolonged dietary deficiency of protein and calories. SYN: marantic atrophy, Parrot disease (2), pedatrophia, pedatrophy. [G. marasmos, withering]
* * *ma·ras·mus mə-'raz-məs n severe malnutrition affecting infants and children esp. of impoverished regions that is characterized by poor growth, loss of subcutaneous fat, muscle atrophy, apathy, and pronounced weight loss and is usu. caused by a diet deficient in calories and proteins but sometimes by disease (as dysentery or giardiasis)
* * *n.mixed deficiency of both protein and calories, resulting in severe wasting in infants. Body weight is below 60% of that expected for age, the infant looks 'old', has thin sparse hair, is pallid and apathetic, lacks skin fat, and has subnormal temperature. The condition may be due to malabsorption, wrong feeding, metabolic disorders, repeated vomiting, diarrhoea, severe disease of the heart, lungs, kidneys, or urinary tract, or chronic bacterial or parasitic disease (especially in tropical climates). Maternal rejection of an infant may cause marasmus through undereating. Acute infection may precipitate death. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but initially very gentle nursing and the provision of nourishment and fluids by gradual steps is appropriate for all.
* * *ma·ras·mus (mə-razґməs) [Gr. marasmos a dying away] a form of protein-energy malnutrition primarily due to prolonged severe caloric deficit, usually during the first year of life, with growth retardation and progressive wasting of subcutaneous fat and muscle, but usually with retention of the appetite and mental alertness. Infectious diseases may be precipitating factors. Called also infantile atrophy, athrepsia, and pedatrophia. Cf. kwashiorkor. marasmatic, marasmic adj
Medical dictionary. 2011.