Kea Braund - Kwashiorkor Fact Sheet

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Kea Braund - Kwashiorkor Fact Sheet

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Circulatory Disease Fact Sheet

Disease Name


This disease is called Kwashiorkor. It is a disease caused by severe child malnutrition. Kwashiorkor is most common in developing countries where many people struggle to receive the necessary nutrients needed to be healthy. Kwashiorkor was first recognized in the 1930’s in Ghana. The name ‘Kwashiorkor’ is from the Ga language, which means “one who is physically displaced”.

CausesKwashiorkor is caused by severe malnutrition. It mainly affects children who have a lack of protein and nutrient intake in their diet who live in areas of drought or famine. It can also be related to dietary changes (milk allergies in infants), fad diets, poor nutritional education or a chaotic home life. The disease can also occur when protein absorption is low due to infections, parasites (intestinal worms) etc. However, it is not just these that put people at risk of getting Kwashiorkor. Other risk factors include:- Cystic Fibrosis (as it interferes with protein absorption)- Vegan diets as they are low in protein- Limited food supply- Prolonged hospitalization

SymptomsThere are a variety of symptoms that are signs of Kwashiorkor. Early symptoms are irritability and fatigue. As the disease continues other signs are slowed growth, weight loss, muscle wasting, generalized swelling, skin changes, enlargement of the liver and abdomen and weakening of the immune system causing frequent infections. Serious symptoms that indicate a life-threatening condition: bluish colouration of lips and fingernails, change in level of conciousness / alertness, chest pain, rapid heart rate, respiratory or breathing problems and high fever.


Treatment for Kwashiorkor depends on how severe the disease has grown to be. Common treatments for Kwashiorkor include: antibiotics to treat infections, gradual increase in dietary calories from carbs, sugars and fats and increase in protein, intravenous fluids to correct fluid and electrolyte imbalances and vitamin and mineral supplements to treat deficiencies. Complications of Kwashiorkor: Anemia (low red blood cell count), Coma, Frequent infections, Intellectual/Physical disability, Poor wound healing, Shock, Short stature, Skin pigment changes and Seatohepatitis (fatty liver). Many of these complications can be life threatening, especially to infants and children, with horrifying untreated Kwashiorkor disease.

Kea Braund Yr 11 Biology


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