Treatment and Complications of Marasmus


Prognosis of treatment of marasmus is better than another common PEM (protein energy malnutrition), kwashiorkor. Although prognosis is encouraging, unfortunately more than half of marasmus patients die, mainly due to lack of adequate treatment.

Treatment of marasmus:

Because marasmus occurs due inadequate intake of protein and calorie, the mainstay of treatment of the disease is therefore provision of balanced nutrition. Every marasmus patient should be treated with special feeding plan and monitored/observed closely during treatment. Close monitoring is required during treatment to prevent complications and to manage complications adequately, if they arise. A well balanced diet plan should include, whole grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein rich foods. The diet should be easily digestible, otherwise gastrointestinal problems (such as indigestion) may arise and lead to complications and poor prognosis.

Where the incidence of marasmus is common, nutritional rehabilitation centers for pediatric age group patients should be established and marasmus patients treated there, which helps in better coordination and better treatment with better prognosis.

Initially the patient should be on liquid diet and in severe cases, the patient should be given intravenous nutrition and nasogastric tube feeding, because the patient may not be able to withstand solid diet. Once condition improves, solid foods can be introduced slowly. Patient should be treated till full recovery.

What are the potential complications of marasmus?

Complications are usually serious among infants and young children suffering from marasmus and unfortunately they are the most common sufferers. Physical and mental development (growth and development) is delayed. The complications that may arise are:

  • Growth retardation, which may be severe if disease is present for long duration
  • Disturbance of vision and extreme cases loss of vision (blindness) may occur
  • Severe weakness that patient may be unable to move
  • Joint destruction of joint deformity
  • Failure of different organs or organ dysfunction may occur
  • In extreme cases unconsciousness or coma may result

Some measures may be taken to reduce risk of marasmus, such as

  • Eat balanced and nutritious diet, that provide all the essential nutrients
  • Drink only safe potable pure water
  • Follow hygiene and sanitation standards
  • Always consult with your healthcare provider, if you have any doubt

These above measures can reduce risk of marasmus and other protein energy malnutrition problems as well as various other conditions.

“Image courtesy of cooldesign /”.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment