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"wasting away of the body," 1650s, Modern Latin, from Greek marasmos "a wasting away, withering, decay," from marainein "to quench, weaken, wither," from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (see morbid). Maras (n.) evidently in the same sense is attested from mid-15c. Related: Marasmic.
marasmus ma·ras·mus (mə-rāz'məs)
Chronic wasting of body tissues, especially in young children, commonly due to prolonged dietary deficiency of protein and calories. Also called athrepsia.
a form of protein-energy malnutrition occurring chiefly among very young children in developing countries, particularly under famine conditions, in which a mother's milk supply is greatly reduced. Marasmus results from the inadequate intake of both protein and calories; persons with a similar type of protein-energy malnutrition, kwashiorkor, do not obtain enough protein but still consume a moderate number of calories. Marasmus is characterized by growth retardation (in weight more than in height) and progressive wasting of subcutaneous fat and muscle. Other symptoms may include diarrhea; dehydration; behavioral changes; dry, loose skin; and dry, brittle hair. Marasmus can be treated with a high-calorie, protein-rich diet. Severe, prolonged marasmus may result in permanent mental retardation and impaired growth.