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Kwashiorkor facts for kids

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One child dies every five seconds as a result of malnutrition

Kwashiorkor is a health condition of poor nutrition from not having enough protein in the diet. If a person uses up energy from carbohydrates (starches) and lipids (fats), their body may begin to use protein for energy.

The body breaks down protein into energy that can be used. They then do not have enough protein for other needed bodily functions such as growth and building tissues like bones. Usually this is a condition of children from aged 1 to 5 years, but rarely adults and older children get it. It is common in poor places in Africa. Symptoms include having a pot belly, swollen face, and hair that is dark then light then dark. This can be cured by having a protein- rich diet.

Kwashiorkor comes from a protein deficiency (lack) in the diet. Body parts becomes swollen due to an accumulation of water in the spaces between the body's cells. Other symptoms are poor muscle development, swollen legs, puffy face, difficulty in eating, diarrhea, and dry skin are the symptoms of this disease.

Signs and symptoms

The defining sign of kwashiorkor in a malnourished child is pitting edema (swelling of the ankles and feet). Other signs include a distended abdomen, an enlarged liver with fatty infiltrates, thinning of hair, loss of teeth, skin de-pigmentation and dermatitis.

Children with kwashiorkor often develop irritability and anorexia. Generally, the disease can be treated by adding protein to the diet; however, it can have a long-term impact on a child's physical and mental development, and in severe cases may lead to death.

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