The term "atrophy of infants" was formerly used to designate a disease sui generis. It was characterized clinically by the fact that children, who had developed well up to a certain time, gradually began to fail and eventually died, presenting the picture of a progressive and often extreme grade of emaciation. This peculiar condition, which was seen only in infants, came to be known under different names, such as tabes mesenterica, athrepsia, pedatrophy and "decomposition." But the change in name brought with it no scientific or practical advance. The nutritional disturbances stand out so prominently in the clinical picture of the disease that they generally came to be recognized as the most essential feature. When the children presented a greater or less degree of atrophy, infectious processes were likely to make their appearance in various parts of the body and these hastened the fatal termination of the atrophy.
CZERNY A. ATROPHY OF INFANTS. Am J Dis Child. 1912;III(3):170-176. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1912.04100150039003