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The malnutritional syndromes have been defined in the past to describe the principal underlying dietary problem in the patient. However, the practical defect is usually a combination of states, and a malnourished individual is often described as having features of several syndromes.
Presentation of the malnutritional syndrome is often with the underlying cause of the malnutrition - for example, with gastroenteritis, or with a side effect of the generalised immune suppression, for example with respiratory infections.
Malnutrition is most commonly associated with developing world children and the conditions of marasmus, kwashiorkor and marasmic kwashiorkor. Developed world adults may show similar states with cachexia physiologically similar to marasmus; the increased catabolism of trauma, sepsis and burns mirror the changes of kwashiorkor.
This section is divided by groups into commonly encountered malnutrition syndromes: