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Fatty Liver in Children

At King’s, our sub-specialised Hepatology (Liver) paediatricians have extensive experience in detecting and treating fatty liver in children and are skilled in operating on young patients with this condition.

Fatty liver disease in children: Introduction

Fatty liver disease is a condition caused due to the build-up of fat in the liver. If left untreated, it may lead to serious hepatic complications like cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), fibrosis, or liver cancer.

What are the common signs and symptoms of fatty liver in children?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is considered a silent disease as it usually does not cause any evident symptoms. In most children, the only symptoms are extreme tiredness and mild pain and discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen.

What are the common causes of fatty liver in children?

  • Obesity
  • Hepatitis C
  • Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Rapid weight loss

Treatments and surgical options for the management of fatty liver in children

The treatment of fatty liver can be recommended based on the extent of damage to the liver.

Your doctor may recommend a Fibroscan to evaluate the extent of liver fibrosis. Fibroscan is a specialized machine that offers one of the most reliable non-invasive methods for assessing fibrosis and fat deposition in the liver. It is a painless procedure that does not require sedation. It can be performed as an outpatient procedure.

The use of Fibroscan is usually recommended for children with chronic liver disease caused due to any etiology or obese children with BMI higher than 25.

There are no medications to reverse the abnormal changes in the liver caused due to this condition. However, lifestyle changes may slow down the progress of this disease to a great extent.

Children with fatty liver disease are advised to adopt healthy dietary practices and exercise regularly to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. The treatment should also be focused on controlling diabetes and other causes that can contribute to the development and progress of this condition.

In severe cases, where the impairment of hepatic functions has led to serious complications, the doctor may recommend a liver transplant. In most liver transplant centers, fatty liver disease is a common reason for liver transplantation.

Recovery period

Patients may need a variable period of recovery after a liver transplant before they can resume their regular activities. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits might help to support faster recovery following transplantation.