The most prevalent paediatric liver illness is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects 5 to 8 million children in the United States. NAFLD causes the cells of the liver to accumulate massive fat droplets, which can impair liver function.
Although physicians have long seen a link between NAFLD and type 2 diabetes in adults, far less is known about a comparable link in children. Over the last 20 years, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children has more than doubled. Children with NAFLD have insulin resistance, which is a critical hallmark of type 2 diabetes, and may be at risk of acquiring the condition.
“As children with diabetes grow into adults with diabetes, there is an increasing public health concern. We need to better understand how NAFLD contributes to the risk of type 2 diabetes in children so that we can work to prevent it “said Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD, professor of paediatrics at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Fatty Liver Clinic.
Link between Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and Diabetes
A new study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology by a national team of researchers led by senior author Schwimmer provides hard numbers describing the link between NAFLD and diabetes risk, discovering that among 892 children with NAFLD enrolled in the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network, type 2 diabetes was present in 6.6% of the children at initial assessment, with the incidence rate increasing 3% annually over the study period.
One in every six children got type 2 diabetes by the conclusion of the research.
“This is concerning since type 2 diabetes in children is a far more aggressive condition than type 2 diabetes in adults, with more rapid and significant consequences and outcomes,” Schwimmer said.
The scientists also found specific risk factors for type 2 diabetes in children with NAFLD, including gender (females were more likely to acquire type 2 diabetes), obesity severity, and the quantity of fat and scar tissue in the liver.
Schwimmer stated, “These findings have clinical relevance for gastroenterologists caring for children with NAFLD.” “They should be aware of the risk and give patients with monitoring, anticipatory counselling, and lifestyle modifications to assist them avoid acquiring type 2 diabetes.”
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