Fatty Liver (Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis)

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder Anand, MD
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What diseases are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?

The diseases of the metabolic syndrome that are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have already been discussed. Other associations exist including

For example, half of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have obstructive sleep apnea, and most patients with obstructive sleep apnea have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 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.

What are the complications of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?

The complications of nonalcoholic liver disease are essentially those of NASH that has progressed to cirrhosis and include liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver cancer.

Does nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occur in children?

Since the current epidemic of obesity begins in childhood, it is not surprising to find that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease 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 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease 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 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It is recommended, however, that children with suspected nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in whom the diagnosis is not clear should have a liver biopsy. Children should not be started on any drug treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease 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 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

REFERENCE: Chopora, S, MD, MACP. et al. "Patient information: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate, Jul 9, 2014

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/21/2015
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