Acute malnutrition takes place when the bodydoesn’t receive the nutritional support it requires,a condition to which it adapts by reducing physicalactivity and slowing the processes involvedin proper organ unction and cell and tissuemaintenance. Regular nourishment enableshuman beings to secure the energy their bodiesrequire or the proper unctioning o their vitalorgans. Malnutrition occurs when the bodyhas spent its energy reserves. The body beginsto consume its own tissues in search o thenutrients and energy it needs to survive, targetingmuscle and body at rst. The body’s metabolismbegins to slow, thermal regulation is disrupted,kidney unction is impaired, and immune systemcapacity is diminished. The greater the losso muscle and other tissue, the less likely thechances o survival. What happens next?Moderate Acute:Moderate acute malnutritionaects a greater number o children and has agreater impact on morbidity. It is accompaniedby crucial deciencies such as anemia (rom alack o iron), goiter (rom a lack o iodine), andxerophthalmia (rom a lack o vitamin A), aswell as scurvy, pellagra, beriberi (rom a lack o vitamin B), and rickets (rom a lack o vitamin D).Severe Acute:The most severe orm thatmalnutrition can take, severe acute malnutritioncan maniest in two ways:
Marasmus is characterized by a massiveloss o weight and muscle tissue. Due to thedisequilibrium experienced in weight and height,children suering rom Marasmus look almostelderly and their bodies are skeletal. At this point,their bodies’ vital processes are compromised:their metabolism has slowed, thermal regulation isdisrupted, intestinal absorption and kidney unctionare diminished, the liver’s capacity to synthesizeproteins and eliminate toxins is reduced, and theimmunological system doesn’t unction properly,which means less resistance to illness and disease.At this stage, even i the child manages to survive itsbout with Marasmus, the damage is done and thedeciencies sustained rom the disease can never beovercome.
The term “kwashiorkor” comes rom a Ghanianword that means “the sickness the older child gets whenthe new child is born.” Its principal characteristic is thepresence o bilateral edemas on the extremities and onthe ace (a ull-aced child). Underneath these edemas,the muscles have been severely weakened, causingexcruciating cramping and muscle pain. As is the case
with Marasmus, children with Kwashiorkor suer from
signicant damage to the unctioning o their internalsystems.
TYPES OF ACUTE MALNUTRITION
Diagnosing a child with acute malnutritionMarasmus, a type o severe acute malnutrition