Fatty Liver (cont.)
Bhupinder Anand, MD
In this Article
What diseases are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?
The diseases of the metabolic syndrome that are associated with NAFLD have already been discussed. Other associations exist including fatty pancreas, hypothyroidism, polyps of the colon, elevated blood uric acid, vitamin D deficiency, polycystic ovaries, and obstructive sleep apnea. For example, half of patients with NAFLD have obstructive sleep apnea, and most patients with obstructive sleep apnea have NAFLD. Associations do not prove causation, and in most cases it is not clear why the associations exist--whether the associations are due to a causal relationship or they reflect an underlying common cause.
Does nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occur in children?
Since the current epidemic of obesity begins in childhood, it is not surprising to find that NAFLD occurs in children. Only a few studies are available, but the estimated prevalence among children 2-19 years of age is approximately 10%, the prevalence increases with the degree of obesity, and there is progression to cirrhosis. Although there is concern about NAFLD among children, there is not enough evidence of benefit of treatment, and, therefore, no general recommendation has been made to screen overweight and obese children for NAFLD. It is recommended, however, that children with suspected NAFLD in whom the diagnosis is not clear should have a liver biopsy. Children should not be started on any drug treatment for NAFLD without a biopsy showing NASH. Although there have not been studies in children to support the recommendations, loss of weight and exercise are the recommended treatment for children with NAFLD.
Medically reviewed by A Board Certified Family Practice Physician; MA License RI License
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/9/2014
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