Pediatric Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD), also called metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), is becoming more common in both children and adults. If you’ve learned your child has NAFLD, chances are you’re worried about their health and future. You might be wondering if there’s a quick fix, or if this means they’ll have permanent liver damage.
At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, our pediatric healthcare providers are here to help lessen your fears and your child’s NAFLD risks. We’ll help you understand how lifestyle and genetics can play a role in your child’s fatty liver disease. And together, we’ll create a treatment plan that focuses on slowing, stopping or even reversing some liver damage. We’ll help your child live a healthy, active life.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic Children’s for Fatty Liver Disease Care?
Treating NAFLD involves making healthy lifestyle changes to reduce fat in your child’s liver. We know change can be challenging for kids, so our compassionate providers will take time to help you and your child on this journey. Meet our team.
Skilled collaborative providers:
Our pediatricians are experts in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect infants, children and teens. We work closely with other specialists at Cleveland Clinic Children’s to make sure your child gets the best possible care.
Innovation and research:
Pediatric healthcare providers at Cleveland Clinic Children’s stay updated on the latest advances and clinical trials for treating non-alcohol related fatty liver disease. Your child will have access to the most innovative treatment options as soon as they’re available.
Getting to in-person medical appointments can be hectic some days. That’s why we can sometimes offer virtual visits with your child’s provider. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer, and you and your child can have an appointment from the comfort of home.
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic Children’s a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the world.
Non-Alcohol Related Fatty Liver Disease Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic Children’s
Your child may have few or no symptoms of fatty liver disease. Their pediatric provider may suspect NAFLD if routine blood work shows high levels of certain liver enzymes or if liver imaging tests show the presence of liver fat.
When confirming fatty liver disease, your child’s provider will ask questions about your family history of NAFLD or other conditions that can increase your child’s risk of developing this condition. To diagnose fatty liver disease, your provider will:
- Measure your child’s height, weight and body mass index (BMI).
- Do a physical exam to check for physical signs of an enlarged liver or insulin resistance.
- Order blood tests to rule out other causes of increased liver enzyme levels.
- Order imaging tests such as an ultrasound, a special ultrasound called vibration controlled transient elastography (VCTE) and a special MRI called magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). All of these tests will let us get more detailed pictures of your child’s liver.
Your child’s provider might also decide to do a liver biopsy to collect a small sample of tissue. Using this sample, they’ll be able to see how much fat is in their liver and also if there’s any damage or other problems. Your child will get general anesthesia during this procedure so they won’t feel any pain.
Providers Who Treat Fatty Liver Disease
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Fatty Liver Treatment at Cleveland Clinic Children’s
Fatty liver disease is a treatable condition. Maintaining a weight that’s healthy for your child through lifestyle changes is the main treatment. We can help your child manage fatty liver disease with a personalized treatment plan that suits them, their health and their lifestyle.
Diet and exercise
Staying active, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight for them are the best ways for your child to avoid serious long-term liver damage. Our team of pediatric specialists can help your child and family learn healthier eating habits and increase exercise.
Without lifestyle changes, children could eventually develop a more serious condition called non-alcohol related steatohepatitis (NASH). This happens when inflammation causes scarring of the liver tissues. Eventually, NASH can also progress to cirrhosis, or permanent, irreversible liver scarring. Scar tissue keeps the liver from working right and could lead to death without treatment or a liver transplant. But with the right treatment plan in place, your child can avoid these complications and stay healthy.
Clinical trials and new medications
Our researchers continuously run clinical studies and trials to find new medications or other treatments for NAFLD. They want to figure out why kids get fatty liver disease, find better ways to diagnose NAFLD in children and identify genes that raise their risk of getting it.
Participating in a clinical trial can give your child access to new therapies before they’re widely available. Your child’s pediatric care team can talk to you more about possible clinical trials for fatty liver disease.
Taking the Next Step
Helping your child make changes to slow, stop or somewhat reverse non-alcohol related fatty liver disease can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. You’ll have compassionate support from your child’s pediatric providers at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. We’ll talk with you about your child’s treatment options and work together to decide what’s best for keeping them healthy today and into the future.
Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s fatty liver disease experts is easy. We’ll help your child get care.
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