The World Health Organization defines malnutrition as "the cellular imbalance between supply of nutrients and
energy and the body's demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance, and specific functions.
Malnutrition is the condition that occurs when your body does not get enough nutrients.
Malnutrition affects virtually every organ system. Dietary protein is needed to provide amino acids for synthesis of
body proteins and other compounds that have various functional roles. Energy is essential for all biochemical and
physiologic functions in the body. Furthermore, micronutrients are essential in many metabolic functions in the body
as components and cofactors in enzymatic processes.
There are a number of causes of malnutrition. It may result from:
Inadequate or unbalanced diet
Problems with digestion or absorption
Certain medical conditions
Inadequate food intake is the most common cause of malnutrition worldwide. In developing countries,
inadequate food intake is secondary to insufficient or inappropriate food supplies or early cessation of
breastfeeding. In some areas, cultural and religious food customs may play a role. Inadequate sanitation
further endangers children by increasing the risk of infectious diseases that increase nutritional losses and
alters metabolic demands.
Clinical signs and symptoms of malnutrition include the following:
Poor weight gain
Slowing of linear growth
Behavioral changes - Irritability, apathy, decreased social responsiveness, anxiety, and attention deficits.
Decreased subcutaneous tissue: Areas that are most affected are the legs, arms, buttocks, and face.
Dry peeling skin with raw exposed areas
Hyperpigmented plaques over areas of traumNail changes:
Nails become fissured or ridged.
Hair changes: Hair is thin, sparse, brittle, easily pulled out, and turns a dull brown or reddish color.
Eating a good, well-balanced diet helps to prevent most forms of malnutrition.
Children with chronic malnutrition may require caloric intakes in excess of 120-150 kcal/kg/d to achieve appropriate
weight gain. The diet must include adequate amounts of protein and other macronutrients.
By: sarah salinas