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Rise in Undiagnosed Pediatric Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

by Aishwarya Nair on November 23, 2020 at 1:12 PM
Rise in Undiagnosed Pediatric Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

The incidence of Non alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is rising amongst children. Not all the youth with obesity are being screened for NAFLD, suggests a study in California.

In 2007 The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommended that all children and youth with obesity should be screened for NAFLD, but this is not strictly followed. Population epidemiology reveals that NAFLD is very common in children, but the rate of clinical diagnosis has not been study.


Between 2009-2018, researchers examined electronic health record data from Kaiser Permanente Southern California for candidates aged between 5 to 18 years. The records consisted of 7.88 million patient years. During the study 54 % of children with obesity & 24% overweight children got screened for NAFLD.

From 2009-2018 the incidence of NAFLD amongst children increased 36.0 to 58.2 per 1,00,000. A total of 3,608 were diagnosed with NAFLD during the study period.

NAFLD diagnosis is becoming more frequent as several internationally recognized societies are recommending screening children with high BMI. Growing and young individuals have a greater risk for conditions such as diabetes, obesity & high triglycerides.

Dr. Schwimmer said, "In our current study we observed that the rate of screening by primary care physicians increased in response to society guidelines. The increase in children being diagnosed with NAFLD is partly because there are greater numbers of children with the problem and partly because there is better detection of the problem."

Limitations to the study
Clinicians did not use liver histology to diagnose NAFLD, due to which it was difficult to estimate the number of children with metabolic syndrome. Research lacks data on the proportion of children with NAFLD who may have fibrosis or NASH.

Dr.Vajro quoted, " Even so, the results underscore that more clinicians need to screen for NAFLD and discuss risk factors for the condition with parents of children who have an increased likelihood of developing the condition"

Source: Medindia
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