Fatty liver disease in children
June 13, 2020
Shocked to see abdominal ultrasound report of your child saying all the abdominal organs are normal apart from a “fatty liver”. You would be much more surprised to know that the culprit that has caused the problem is diet. Every parents dream is to have a ‘chubby’ child, but many parents don’t know that over weight increases risk of deposition of fat into the liver which can cause liver failure. Like alcohol that damages liver, faulty diet habit can damage the liver by deposition of fat, leading onto liver failure.Intake of refined carbohydrates, fried food and carbonated drinks are some of the major contributors towards fatty liver even in non-obese children. It is estimated that 3-10 % of normal weight children has fatty liver, whereas this increases up to 50-70 % in obese children.
Tips towards healthy lifestyle:
- Have a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fresh fruits. But the problem with children is they wouldn’t eat them. Adding more vegetables to a pizza or fruits with ice cream is a clever way of trying to make eat vegetables and fruits.
- Portion size matter – Pizza’s, fried chicken/ chips are not “junk foods” when eaten in appropriate portion size. Home food eaten in large quantities can cause calorie excess and could lead on to obesity and so portion size matters
- Keep fried foods and fizzy drinks as treats for special occasion rather than a daily snacks.
- Avoid watching television during mealtime as it is associated with over eating.
- Limit video games and encourage children to take part in physical activities and outdoor games.
- During your visit to child specialist, make sure that height, weight and body mass index (BMI) are plotted in the growth chart. This will help in early identification of obesity.
- Fatty liver could revert back to normal liver with weight loss and appropriate diet habits.
Prevention of liver disease in children
- Liver is the second largest organ in the body situated in the upper part of abdomen
- It has three main function
- Synthetic function: Production of substances that helps in body function and growth
- Detoxification: Neutralization of toxins that we ingest and also that produced is produced in our body
- Immunological function
- Liver has capacity to regenerate and re-grow like a star fish
- Hepatitis A virus, E virus, typhoid bacteria etc spreads by contaminated water. Avoiding roadside foods and drinking boiled water prevents this
- Hepatitis B and C are spread by contaminated blood. Make sure new blades are used in barber shop and scissors are properly cleaned.
- Hepatitis A, B and typhoid can be prevented by vaccination
- Excessive weight gain can cause accumulation fat in liver and can cause liver damage. This condition is called Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Healthy eating and weight management can prevent this condition
- Metabolic liver diseases due to hereditary disorders could be prevented by avoiding marriages in close relatives.
- Some mediation can be toxic to liver in slightly higher doses and so self-medication has to be avoided.