February 10, 2015

News Tips & Features, News Tips & Features, non alcoholic fatty liver disease

By Editor

Children with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are also at increased risk for high blood pressure. These findings were reported in the journal PLoS One.[1]

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is group of diseases caused by extra fat in the liver. Some people with NAFLD have no problems, but others can suffer from inflammation or irritation and a build-up of scar tissue. When scar tissue builds up, the disease is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which can lead to cirrhosis or problems with liver function. According to the American Liver Foundation, NAFLD affects approximately 30 million people in the United States, and almost 10% of all U.S. children. Because people who develop NAFLD in childhood will have the condition for a longer period, they’re at a particular risk of complications, such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, and for needing liver transplants as adults.[2]

In an effort to better understand complications of NAFLD among children, researchers sought to determine how frequently children with NAFLD developed high blood pressure as well as risk factors for high blood pressure.

The study included findings from 382 children with NAFLD, who were between ages 2 and 17 when they enrolled in the study. The researchers measured participants’ blood pressure at enrollment and again 12 months later.

At enrollment, 35.8% of children had high blood pressure. Among them, 21.4% still had high blood pressure after 12 months (persistent high blood pressure). High blood pressure was associated with significantly greater risk of more fat in the liver. In addition, children higher body mass index and higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (a fat found in the blood) and uric acid (a chemical created when the body breaks down food compounds called purines) were at risk for high blood pressure. Girls with NAFLD were significantly more likely to have persistent high blood pressure than boys.

The researchers concluded that children with NAFLD have an elevated risk of high blood pressure. They recommend that doctors regularly check children with NAFLD for high blood pressure and are prepared to treat the condition.

References:

[1] Schwimmer JB, Zepeda A, Newton KP, et al. Longitudinal Assessment of High Blood Pressure in Children with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. PLoS One. November 24, 2014; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112569.

[2] Sundaram SS. Pediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. The American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/chapters/rockymountain/doctorsnotes/pediatricnafld/. Accessed February 3, 2015.

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CONDITIONS OF THE GI TRACT