Objective: To describe the clinical characteristics of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children, including insulin resistance, and to test for correlation with liver pathology.
Study design: A retrospective review of children with biopsy-proven NAFLD at Children's Hospital San Diego from 1999 to 2002. Liver biopsy specimens were independently reviewed by two pathologists.
Results: Children with NAFLD (n=43) were mostly male (70%), Hispanic American (53%) and obese (88%). The criteria for insulin resistance were met by 95% of subjects. Steatosis was predicted by the combination of quantitative insulin sensitivity check index, age, and ethnicity (P<.0001). Portal inflammation was predicted by the combination of ALT and fasting insulin (P=.0009). Perisinusoidal fibrosis was predicted by the combination of AST, fasting insulin, and BMI Z score (P<.0001). Portal fibrosis was predicted by the combination of right upper quadrant pain and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (P=.0028).
Conclusions: We identified significant predictors of liver pathology in children with NAFLD. Children being evaluated for NAFLD should be screened for insulin resistance, which is nearly universal and correlates with liver histology.