The Familial Background to Nutritional Marasmus in Tripoli

Original article


P. L. Pellett 1, D. Mamarbachi 1, H. M. Basha 2, F. Dajani 2, R. A. Zeineh 3

1-Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass. USA 2-Department of Paediatrics, Childrens Hospital, Tripoli, S.P.L.A.J. 3-Medical Laser Unit, Arab Development Institute, Tripoli, S.P.L.A.J.

Garyounis Medical Journal Vol. 3, No.1. January 1980:33-41


A study was performed in the pediatric hospital, Tripoli, Libya where the familial backgrounds of 50 marasmic infants were compared with a group of 50 essentially healthy infants of similar age. The marasmic infant was usually later in the birth order and families with marasmic infants had more children but lived in smaller homes than the comparison families. Total income was similar in both sets of families and there were no differences in the availability of major consumer items such as TV sets, cars and refrigerators. Families with marasmic infants, however, had less literated mothers who tended to breast feed for a shorter period and to feed purchased pureed baby foods more frequently. The causation of marasmus in these circumstances is considered to be unhygienic infant feeding despite the availability of clean water and modern kitchen facilities. It is considered that all three factors, i.e., adequate housing, adequate income and an adequately educated mother are necessary simultaneously before infantile marasmus can be prevented.

Keywords: The Familial Background to Nutritional Marasmus in Tripoli