Last reviewed 01/2018

Marasmus is failure to grow associated with emaciation and fair appetite. It may be defined in terms of weight, for example less than 60% of that expected for age.

Marasmus generally occurs in infants up to one year. In the developed world it is found in infants who are born undernourished or are recovering from a severe chronic illness, especially those affecting the bowel.

In developing countries this condition commonly is associated with failure of lactation due to poor nutrition of the mother.

Note that marasmus is an adaptive response to poor nutrition.