An estimated six million young people in the United States are now diagnosed with fatty liver disease. This chronic condition, which can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver and even liver failure, historically has been diagnosed in adults with diabetes or alcoholism. The disease now is becoming increasingly common in obese children and teens.
Fatty liver disease (also called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD), occurs when the body stores excess fat in the liver. In the early stages, excess fat is stored in the liver, but there is no damage or inflammation. In later stages, however, NAFLD can progress to something more serious called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, in which the excess fat triggers inflammation and cell damage in the liver. Obesity as well as diabetes and hepatitis C are some of the known causes of fatty liver disease.
Dedicated GI-Childhood Obesity Clinic
The Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital oversees a dedicated clinic for the treatment of GI-related childhood obesity issues. Comprehensive treatment options offered include diet and nutrition education, weight management, medications and/or surgery. SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital also has the Healthy First Program, the only adolescent-specific program in Missouri that offers a comprehensive approach to childhood obesity — from compassionate medical management to bariatric surgery and nutrition education.
Gastroenterologists at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital are actively researching causes and newer treatment options for fatty liver disease in children as well as the factors that influence over-eating in children.