Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Children
Belinda @ Kids Matter
“During the last decade, pediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has reached epidemic proportions, becoming one of the most frequent chronic liver diseases in the global child population,” says MedScape. “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S.,” reports WebMD.
Just when you thought you were doing everything you could to protect your child… BAM… out comes another disease and you have to re-evaluate your child’s medical needs. NAFLD is NOT a new disease. It is a GROWING disease. Why? Because, childhood obesity is at an all-time high. It has now reached a critical level and we, as parents, grandparents, and custodians, must take back control. We must insist on healthy diets and physical activity. Unless you plan to donate your liver or wait patiently as your child sits on the liver transplant waiting list, you must realize that the time to act is NOW. To get information on liver transplants please visit the American Liver Foundation.
What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic “NAFLD is a term used to describe the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. In some people with NAFLD, the fat that accumulates can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver. This more serious form of NAFLD is sometimes called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. At its most severe, NAFLD can progress to liver failure.” “NAFLD occurs when the liver is overloaded with more sugar than it can process. When this happens, the process of de novo lipogenesis starts – the conversion of carbohydrates into ‘new fat’, also known as triglycerides. As you may be aware, elevated triglycerides are not a good sign, and when this chronically happens at the liver, it can lead to hepatic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver),” says Evolutionary Health Systems.
Who is at risk?
· The overweight – Check your child’s weight/height ratio using the appropriate graph found on About.com.
· Those with high blood fat levels, either triglycerides or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
· Those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
· Those with high blood pressure.
· Those with a family history of fatty liver disease.
How is it diagnosed?
· Through blood tests that check the liver enzymes for fat content.
· Through an ultrasound of the liver.
· Through a liver biopsy. (Inserting a needle into your child’s liver and withdrawing tissue.)
How is it treated?
At this time there is no cure for fatty liver disease. The good news is, however, that with proper diet and exercise you may be able to reverse the condition in your child.
· Losing weight and eating healthy.
· Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides.
· Controlling your diabetes.
· At least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.
How do we prevent it?
· Take back control over all the electronic devices.
· Prepare healthy meals and encourage better eating habits. Lead by example.
· Encourage in, and participate in, physical activities with your child.
· Limit television and gaming activities.
· Take your child for an annual physical.Now that you know what fatty liver disease is and understand that it is quickly becoming an epidemic in our children; you are armed with the information you need to fight this disease. Protect your child now! A medical waiting list is never where you want to see your child’s name.