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Protein Energy Malnutrition

What Is Protein Energy Malnutrition?

Protein-energy malnutrition or PEM is a condition of severe deficiency due to the lack of all macronutrients and many micronutrients. It can happen suddenly or gradually.

Protein Energy Malnutrition

It can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Children in developing countries who are not provided with calories and protein are affected. In developed countries, older generations are affected.

Classification Of Protein Energy Malnutrition

PEM can be classified into two types:

  • Primary PEM
  • Secondary PEM

This type of protein and energy malnutrition is seen in children. It is rarely seen in the elderly, with the most common cause being depression. It can also be caused by abuse of children or the elderly. There are two main types of PEM in children:

  • It is caused by a disorder in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • It can be caused by infection, thyroid disease, trauma, burns and other serious illnesses.
  • It reduces appetite and disrupts metabolism.

Diagnosis of Protein Energy Malnutrition

PEM can be diagnosed by identifying the patient’s dietary history.

Height and weight measurements, fat distribution, and anthropometric measurements of lean body mass should be assessed. To measure the severity of PEM, body mass index or BMI is calculated.

Laboratory tests such as measurement of serum albumin, total lymphocyte count, transferrin and skin antigen response can help diagnose the severity of protein energy malnutrition.

Decreased levels of hormones, lipids, fats, cholesterol, prealbumin, insulin-like growth factor, fibronectin, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate may also contribute to the diagnosis of PEM.

Treatment of Protein Energy Malnutrition

  • Oral feeding
  • Avoiding lactose
  • Supportive care
  • Reduction in poverty
  • Improving nutritional education and public health measures
  • Starvation can be treated by providing a balanced diet
  • Multivitamin supplements

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