Pediatric Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in New York City: An Autopsy Study

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the prevalence and severity of nonalcoholic liver disease (NAFLD) in children in a diverse population sample in New York City.

Study design

Liver specimens were examined from children 2-19 years old who died of unexpected causes within 48 hours of medical presentation and underwent autopsy in New York City from 2005 to 2010. Records were reviewed for age, sex, weight, height, and race. Two hepatopathologists evaluated each liver specimen to determine pathologic diagnosis.

Results

The final study cohort (n = 582) was 50% black, 33% Hispanic, 12% white, 3% Asian, and 2% other; 36% had a body mass index >85%. There were 26 cases of NAFLD (4.5%) of which 10 had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (1.7%). There were no cases with severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. One percent (3/290) of black children had NAFLD and none had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. White and Hispanic children had the highest percentages of NAFLD at 8.3% and 7.9%, respectively. In multiple logistic regression models, we observed that body mass index z-score (P < .001) was associated with NAFLD, and that white (P = .003) and Hispanic (P = .005) children had higher odds of having NAFLD compared with black children.

Conclusions

This review of liver tissue demonstrates a lower prevalence and severity of NAFLD in black children compared with the general obese pediatric population. Hispanic children did not have a significantly increased rate of NAFLD compared with white children, most likely related to the large proportion of Caribbean Hispanic children in New York City.

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