The amount of non-infectious diseases among children and teenagers alike is increasing at an alarming rate around the world. Diabetes, cholesterol, cancer, obesity and cardiac disease are some examples of these. But there is one other condition that for many children goes undiagnosed until its critical – fatty liver.
Fatty liver disease, also called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a type of liver disease that happens when excess fat is stored in the liver. NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease and can be critical, sometimes causing fatal complications. Any child could be affected, of course, if other contributing factors act as catalysts.
More boys than girls develop NAFLD. Certain conditions also make children more likely to develop fatty liver disease.
There are two main categories of this condition;
- Simple fatty liver disease, when a child has accumulated fat in the liver but no inflammation or cell damage.
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), when fat in a child’s liver leads to inflammation and cell damage. NASH is a serious condition that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?
Both NAFLD and NASH are considered as being silent diseases because they often have no symptoms. For many children, the only symptoms are feeling tired or having discomfort in the upper right abdomen. This is why, it can be fatal. Getting the right treatment on time, from the right medical experts is critical to a child’s recovery process.
What causes fatty liver disease?
Researchers do not fully understand why some children develop NAFLD. However, they have observed that children who are already ailing from certain conditions may have a predisposition to, or, may be at higher risk for developing fatty liver. These include;
- Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes
- High lipid disorders
- Insulin resistance
- Hepatitis C
- Rapid weight loss
It can be scary to think that your child may have this too, but there is treatment and, with your efforts to help them live and eat healthy, your child will lead a normal, healthy life.