Kwashiorkor, also known as protein malnutrition is a severe condition that is caused by improper intake of protein yet balanced diet of calories. A diet high in starch and less amount of proteins causes this disease mostly in young children whose diet comprises of cereal grains, potato or other starch abundant foods. Kwashiorkor is most commonly found in poor countries or drought affect countries.


Factors that lead to Kwashiorkor are:

  • Food crisis
  • Inadequate supply of food
  • Improper knowledge of education about food


Symptoms underlying Kwashiorkor disease include:

  1. Discoloration of skin
  2. Lessened muscle mass
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Loss of weight
  5. Static weight
  6. Hair changes
  7. Weakened immune system
  8. Irritability
  9. Protruding of stomach
  10. Laziness
  11. Rash on skin


Tests to determine this disease are:

  • Arterial blood gas
  • BUN
  • CBC
  • Creatinine report
  • Serum creatinine
  • Serum potassium
  • Total protein levels
  • Urine analysis


To treat Kwashiorkor, the diet should comprise of foods that are high in calories and proteins. Intake of calories should be in the form of carbohydrates, simple sugar and fats. Protein diet is prescribed when the calories supply enough energy to the body. However, vitamins and mineral substitutes are necessity in the diet. Many children with this disease develop intolerance to milk sugar. To compensate this, supplements of milk and its products should be given first before starting the actual food.


Treatment of Kwashiorkor in early stages gives best results. Nonetheless, it improves child’s overall health with time. However, the child suffers from permanent physical and emotional problems. If there is delay in the treatment, it can be life-threatening for the child.


To keep Kwashiorkor at bay, one must have a diet that is sufficient in carbohydrates, fat and proteins.

Treatment cost

United States has very less number of children having Kwashiorkor, because of which the treatment cost of this disease in unknown.