Definitions for kwashiorkorˌkwɑ ʃiˈɔr kɔr, -kər
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severe malnutrition in children resulting from a diet excessively high in carbohydrates and low in protein
A form of malnutrition, found in children, caused by dietary insufficiency of protein in combination with a high carbohydrate diet.
Kwashiorkor is an acute form of childhood protein-energy malnutrition characterized by edema, irritability, anorexia, ulcerating dermatoses, and an enlarged liver with fatty infiltrates. Sufficient calorie intake, but with insufficient protein consumption, distinguishes it from marasmus. Kwashiorkor cases occur in areas of famine or poor food supply. Cases in the developed world are rare. Jamaican pediatrician Dr. Cicely Williams introduced the name into the medical community in her 1935 Lancet article. The name is derived from the Ga language of coastal Ghana, translated as "the sickness the baby gets when the new baby comes", and reflecting the development of the condition in an older child who has been weaned from the breast when a younger sibling comes. Breast milk contains proteins and amino acids vital to a child's growth. In at-risk populations, kwashiorkor may develop after a mother weans her child from breast milk, replacing it with a diet high in carbohydrates, especially starches, but deficient in protein.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
A syndrome produced by severe protein deficiency, characterized by retarded growth, changes in skin and hair pigment, edema, and pathologic changes in the liver, including fatty infiltration, necrosis, and fibrosis. The word is a local name in Gold Coast, Africa, meaning "displaced child". Although first reported from Africa, kwashiorkor is now known throughout the world, but mainly in the tropics and subtropics. It is considered to be related to marasmus. (From Dorland, 27th ed)
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