Editorials

Antioxidants for children with kwashiorkor

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7500.1095 (Published 12 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1095
  1. George J Fuchs (fuchsgeorgej@uams.edu), professor of pediatrics
  1. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children's Hospital, 800 Marshall Street, Little Rock, AR 72202 USA

    Oxidative stress may not explain this deadly disease

    Protein energy malnutrition is the most deadly form of malnutrition. It is the primary or associated cause of around half of the nearly 11 million annual deaths among children under five, 30 000 each day.1 The reasons for this tragedy are quite clearly poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality, yet knowing this does not translate into finding correspondingly obvious or immediate solutions.

    Clinically, protein energy malnutrition presents broadly as one of two extremes: the severe loss of body weight of marasmus or the oedematous malnutrition of kwashiorkor. Conceptualisation of protein energy malnutrition in this way has some disadvantages in its simplicity, but it does have practical importance and reflects differences in epidemiology, pathophysiology, treatment, and presumably aetiology. Of the two, kwashiorkor is consistently the more lethal, with …

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