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Marasmus Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Simon S Rabinowitz, MD, PhD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP  more...
 
Updated: May 13, 2014
 
 

Diagnostic Considerations

No differential diagnosis for marasmus are noted. However, when edema is present, it can reflect a kwashiorkor (KW) component of the malnutrition or an underlying cardiac or renal insufficiency. In these circumstances, additional laboratory tests or radiographic tests may be needed.

 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Simon S Rabinowitz, MD, PhD, FAAP Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Vice Chairman, Clinical Practice Development, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Downstate

Simon S Rabinowitz, MD, PhD, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Gastroenterological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Phi Beta Kappa, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Gastroenterology, American Medical Association, New York Academy of Sciences, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Mario Gehri, MD Consulting Staff, Department of Pediatrics, Hôpital De L'Enfance, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ermindo R Di Paolo, PhD Pharmacist, Department of Pharmacy, University Hospital CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Natalia M Wetterer, MD Resident Physician, Department of Pediatrics, New York Medical College

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Esther N Prince, MD Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University; Chief, Division of Neonatology, Director, Fellowship Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Director, Transport/ECMO/Nutrition, Vice Chair, Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Georgia

Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Nutrition, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Gerber.

Chief Editor

Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP Professor of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University; Chief, Division of Neonatology, Director, Fellowship Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Director, Transport/ECMO/Nutrition, Vice Chair, Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Georgia

Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Nutrition, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Gerber.

Additional Contributors

Maria Rebello Mascarenhas, MBBS Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Section Chief of Nutrition, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Director, Nutrition Support Service, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Maria Rebello Mascarenhas, MBBS is a member of the following medical societies: American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the use of images and information from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

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Malnutrition hotspot map. Image courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Physiopathological principle of arm circumference measurement in children aged 1-5 years and the relationship with severity of malnutrition.
Hormonal adaptation to the stress of malnutrition. The evolution of marasmus.
Distribution of 10.4 million deaths among children younger than 5 years in all developing countries. World health Organization (WHO), 1995.
Clinical course of marasmus (history).
A classic example of a weight chart for a severely malnourished child.
General principles of severe malnutrition management. KW = Kwashiorkor.
Table 1. WHO Classification of Malnutrition
Evidence of MalnutritionModerateSevere (type)
Symmetric edemaNoYes (edema protein-energy malnutrition [PEM])*
Weight for heightStandard deviation (SD) score -3



SD score <-2 (70-90%)§



SD score <-3 (ie, severe wasting) || (< 70%)
Height for ageSD score- 3



SD score <-2 (85-89%)



SD score <-3 (ie, severe stunting) (< 85%)
* This includes kwashiorkor (KW) and kwashiorkor marasmus (presence of edema always indicates serious PEM).



Standing height should be measured in children taller than 85 cm, and supine length should be measured in children shorter than 85 cm or in children who are too sick to stand. Generally, the supine length is considered to be 0.5 cm longer than the standing height; therefore, 0.5 cm should be deducted from the supine length measured in children taller than 85 cm who are too sick to stand.



Below the median National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)/WHO reference: The SD score is defined as the deviation of the value for an individual from the median value of the reference population divided by the standard deviation of the reference population (ie, SD score = [observed value – median reference value]/standard deviation of reference population).



§ This is the percentage of the median NCHS/WHO reference.



|| This corresponds to marasmus (without edema) in the Wellcome clinical classification and to grade III malnutrition in the Gomez system. However, to avoid confusion, the term severe wasting is preferred.



Table 2. Composition Comparison of ReSoMal, Standard WHO, and Reduced-Osmolarity WHO ORS Solutions
CompositionReSoMal (mmol/L)Standard ORS (mmol/L)Reduced osmolarity ORS
Glucose12511175
Sodium459075
Potassium402020
Chloride708065
Citrate71010
Magnesium3......
Zinc0.3......
Copper0.045......
Osmolarity (mOsm/L)300311245
Table 3. Preparation of F75 and F100 Diets (WHO)
IngredientAmount in F75Amount in F100
Dry skimmed milk25 g80 g
Sugar70 g50 g
Cereal flour35 g...
Vegetable oil27 g60 g
Mineral mix20 mL20 mL
Vitamin mix140 mg140 mg
Water to mix1000 mL1000 mL
Table 4. Pathophysiology and its Relation to Pharmacokinetic Parameters in Malnourished Children
Physical ParameterPathophysiological ProfilePharmacokinetic Parameters
GI tract
  • Hypochlorhydria
  • Mucosal atrophy
  • Changes in transit time
  • Impaired pancreatic function
  • Altered gut microbial flora
  • Absorption
  • Enterohepatic circulation
  • Gut wall and gut bacterial metabolism
Body composition
  • Changes in protein/fat metabolism
  • Imbalance in body water distribution
  • Reduced sodium, potassium, and magnesium
  • Protein binding
  • Tissue uptake and distribution
  • Retention and elimination
Liver
  • Ultrastructural alterations
  • Decreased protein synthesis
  • Metabolism
  • Hepatic and biliary excretion
  • Enterohepatic circulation
Kidney
  • Reduced glomerular filtration
  • Impaired tubular function
  • Renal clearance
Cardiac system
  • Decreased cardiac output
  • Increased plasma volume
  • Organ blood flow
  • Tissue perfusion
Table 5. WHO Dosage Guidelines for Glucose (Dextrose if IV), Vitamins, and Minerals
Dextrose, Vitamins, and MineralsDosage
Glucose (dextrose)Conscious children: 50 mL 10% glucose or sucrose PO or 5 mL/kg of body weight of 10% dextrose IV, followed by 50 mL 10% glucose or sucrose by NG tube
Vitamin AInfants < 6 months: 50,000 IU/d PO for 2 d, followed by a third dose at least 2 wk later



Infants 6-12 months: 100,000 IU/d PO for 2 d, followed by a third dose at least 2 wk later



Children >12 months: 200,000 IU/d PO for 2 d, followed by a third dose at least 2 wk later



Folic acid5 mg PO on day 1, then 1 mg/d PO thereafter
MultivitaminsAll diets should be fortified with water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins by adding, for example, the WHO vitamin mix (thiamine 0.7 mg/L, riboflavin 2 mg/L, nicotinic acid 10 mg/L, pyridoxine 0.7 mg/L, cyanocobalamin 1 mcg/L, folic acid 0.35 mg/L, ascorbic acid 100 mg/L, pantothenic acid 3 mg/L, biotin 0.1 mg/L, retinol 1.5 mg/L, calciferol 30 mcg/L, alpha-tocopherol 22 mg/L, vitamin K 40 mcg/L)
Iron supplementsProphylaxis: 1-2 mg elemental iron/kg/d PO; not to exceed 15 mg/d



Severe iron deficiency anemia: 4-6 mg elemental iron/kg/d PO divided tid



Mild-to-moderate iron deficiency anemia: 3 mg elemental iron/kg/d PO qd or divided bid



Precaution: GI irritation



Zinc sulfateSupplementation with ≥5 mg/d recommended for children aged 1 mo to 5 y with acute or persistent diarrhea (including dysentery)
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