Birth weight is risk factor for fatty liver disease in children

April 4, 2017
Credit: Anna Langova/public domain

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with a cohort of clinical collaborators from across the United States, have demonstrated the impact of low and high birth weights in developing Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a chronic disease that often leads to a need for organ transplantation. Results of the study were published in the online April edition of The Journal of Pediatrics.

"What our research found is that low- and high-birth weight were both associated with the severity of disease, but in different ways," said Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. "Children with were more likely to develop severe scarring of the liver. However, children with high-birth weight were more likely to develop the hepatitis form of ."

From the beginning of a child's life, low birth weight and high birth weight identify children who have increased risk for health-related issues, one being NAFLD. Birth weight involves both maternal and in utero factors, which may have long-lasting consequences for liver health.

Schwimmer noted that early research indicated a relationship between low-birth weight and cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, until now, there had been a lack of insight into the link between high-birth weight and long-term health outcomes.

"This is the first study to show that extremes of weights on either side of the normal spectrum are connected to an increased risk for NAFLD," said Schwimmer. "Children who are born with low birth weight or high birth weight may merit closer attention to their metabolic health to help prevent obesity, liver disease, and diabetes."

Information was obtained from more than 530 children under the age of 21 who were enrolled in the Database of the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases NASH Clinical Research Network. The children had a diagnosis of NAFLD as confirmed by . The birth weights of the children were collected and compared to the distribution of birth categories in the general U.S. population.

According to the American Liver Foundation, NAFLD is a spectrum of diseases that begins with excess fat deposits in the liver. As the disease progresses, fibrosis increases, which may become cirrhosis, a permanent form of scarring that can lead to liver failure and need for transplantation. NAFLD affects 30 million people in the U.S., almost 10 percent of whom are . The average age of diagnosis is 12.

Explore further: Childhood adiposity linked to later risk of fatty liver disease

Related Stories

Childhood adiposity linked to later risk of fatty liver disease

March 29, 2017
(HealthDay)—Childhood adiposity is associated with increased odds of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a study published online March 29 in Pediatrics.

Waist not weight—the key to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

April 16, 2016
A new study presented today demonstrates that a build-up of fat around the waist can cause more serious complications than obesity in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study was presented at ...

Recommendations developed for pediatric NAFLD

December 13, 2016
(HealthDay)—Evidence-based recommendations have been developed for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The guidelines were published online Nov. 30 in the Journal of ...

Obese children burdened by more than weight

November 24, 2014
High blood pressure and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are two emerging health problems related to the epidemic of childhood obesity. In a recent study, researchers at University of California, San Diego School ...

Obese children should be screened for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—new NASPGHAN guidelines

December 1, 2016
A screening test for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)—a serious condition that may have lifelong health consequences—is recommended for all obese children aged nine to eleven years, according to clinical practice ...

NASH associated with a 50 percent higher chance of death compared with NAFLD

April 24, 2015
Results from a large population-based cohort of almost a million people in the UK found that the chances of dying from non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), over a 14-year period, was approximately 50% higher than for those ...

Recommended for you

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

Children who sleep an hour less at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, says study

August 15, 2017
A study has found that children who slept on average one hour less a night had higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance.

Low blood sugars in newborns linked to later difficulties

August 8, 2017
A newborn condition affecting one in six babies has been linked to impairment in some high-level brain functions that shows up by age 4.5 years.

Can breast milk feed a love of vegetables?

August 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Want your preschooler to eat veggies without a fuss? Try eating veggies while you're breast-feeding.

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.