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Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease & NASH in Children

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Definition & Facts

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the form of NAFLD in which a child has hepatitis—inflammation of the liver—and liver cell damage, in addition to fat in the liver.

Symptoms & Causes

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) typically cause few or no symptoms. Children with certain health conditions—such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes—are more likely to develop NAFLD and NASH.

Diagnosis

Doctors use medical and family history, a physical exam, and tests to diagnose nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in children and to check for other liver problems. Tests may include blood and imaging tests and sometimes liver biopsy.

Treatment

Doctors recommend that children who are overweight or obese lose weight to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). No medicines have been approved to treat NAFLD and NASH in children.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet, limiting portion sizes, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in children. If a child has NAFLD or NASH, the parent or caretaker should talk with a doctor about the child’s diet.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

View More Liver Disease Information

Related Research

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, M.D., University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine