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Can children develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Joel Lavine, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterology
Children can develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which the liver contains excessive amounts of fat. In fact, fatty liver disease is the most common cause of liver disease among children in the U.S. Because obesity is a risk factor for NAFLD, as obesity rates have risen in American children, so have the rates of NAFLD. 

Children can develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the same ways as adults. The effects of the disease are similar for children and adults, although doctors do not know the exact cause of NAFLD in either. While NAFLD has been linked to obesity, which has seen increased rate of incidence among children in the past few years, this is not the only risk factor associated with NAFLD in children. The same behaviors and conditions that put adults at risk of developing NAFLD apply to children, as well as the behaviors that might counteract its progress.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.