Pediatric Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Current Thinking

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Abstract

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an increasingly prevalent paediatric disorder, is diagnosed and managed not only by both pediatric gastroenterologists/hepatologists but also frequently by the general pediatrician. This article updates recent advances in diagnostic and therapeutic approach, which may be applied to everyday practice. Diagnosis of NAFLD takes into account the risk factor profile and is a diagnosis of exclusion. Techniques such as transient elastography and specific biomarkers aimed at improving diagnosis and monitoring of NAFLD need further validation in the pediatric population. Defining the risk to develop cirrhosis seems to be of primary importance already in childhood and a combination of genetic, clinical, and environmental factors can help in monitoring and making decisions on therapy. Weight reduction therapy should be the aim of treatment approach, but the compliance is poor and pharmacological treatment would be helpful; docosahexaenoic acid, some probiotics, and vitamin E are to be considered, but evidence is not sufficient to recommend widespread use.

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