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. 2006 Oct;118(4):1388-93.
doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-1212.

Prevalence of Fatty Liver in Children and Adolescents


Prevalence of Fatty Liver in Children and Adolescents

Jeffrey B Schwimmer et al. Pediatrics. .


Objective: Fatty liver disease is diagnosed increasingly in children, but the prevalence remains unknown. We sought to determine the prevalence of pediatric fatty liver as diagnosed by histology in a population-based sample.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of 742 children between the ages of 2 and 19 years who had an autopsy performed by a county medical examiner from 1993 to 2003. Fatty liver was defined as > or = 5% of hepatocytes containing macrovesicular fat.

Results: Fatty liver was present in 13% of subjects. For children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years, the prevalence of fatty liver adjusted for age, gender, race, and ethnicity is estimated to be 9.6%. Fatty liver prevalence increases with age, ranging from 0.7% for ages 2 to 4 up to 17.3% for ages 15 to 19 years. Fatty liver prevalence differs significantly by race and ethnicity (Asian: 10.2%; black: 1.5%; Hispanic: 11.8%; white: 8.6%). The highest rate of fatty liver was seen in obese children (38%).

Conclusions: Fatty liver is the most common liver abnormality in children age 2 to 19 years. The presence of macrovesicular hepatic steatosis in approximately 1 of every 10 children has important ramifications for the long-term health of children and young adults. The influence of the risk factors identified should be taken into consideration in the development of protocols designed to screen at-risk children and adolescents.

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