How is marasmus treated?

A nutritious, well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and protein will reduce the risk of malnutrition and any related marasmus.

Treatment of marasmus involves a special feeding and rehydration plan and close medical observation to prevent and manage complications of malnutrition. Pediatric nutrition rehabilitation centers have been established in some countries and regions to coordinate treatment of malnourished children. Intravenous fluids, oral rehydration solutions, and nasogastric feeding tubes are forms of treatment that may be used.

What are the potential complications of marasmus?

Complications related to marasmus or malnutrition are particularly serious in infants and young children. Lack of proper nutrition can lead to delays in physical and mental development. Complications of untreated marasmus can be serious and may include:

  • Growth problems in children
  • Joint deformity and destruction
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of vision and blindness
  • Organ failure or dysfunction
  • Unconsciousness and coma


  1. Malnutrition. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  2. Water-related disease. World Health Organization.
  3. Jahoor F, Badaloo A, Reid M, Forrester T. Protein metabolism in severe childhood malnutrition. Ann Trop Paediatr 2008; 28:87.

What is marasmus?

Marasmus is a severe form of malnutrition that consists of the chronic wasting away of fat, muscle, and other tissues in the body. Malnutrition occurs when your body does not get enough protein and calories. This lack of nutrition can range from a shortage of certain vitamins to complete starvation. Marasmus is one of the most serious forms of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) in the world.
Read more about marasmusintroduction


What are the symptoms of marasmus?

Symptoms of marasmus can range from mild to severe depending on the degree of malnutrition.

Common symptoms of marasmus

You may experience marasmus symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times any of these marasmus symptoms can be severe:


What causes marasmus?

Marasmus is a form of malnutrition in which inadequate amounts of both protein and calories are consumed, resulting in an energy deficit in the body. Marasmus occurs most often in developing nations or in countries where poverty, along with inadequate food supplies and contaminated water, are prevalent. Marasmus often affects children in regions with high rates of poverty, such as Africa, Latin... Read more about marasmuscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet