How to Treat Fatty Liver Disease in Kids

How to Treat Fatty Liver Disease in Kids


Today I’m going to be talking about
fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is a condition where fat, just as
the fat accumulates on areas like your arm or your belly, it accumulates in
the liver and causes injury. If your child’s overweight or obese, they
could determine that based on his height and weight, there’s a few recommendations
that your child be screened for certain conditions. One of them is high blood
pressures. The other one is diabetes. Make sure the lipids like the cholesterol
in the blood are okay. The last one is fatty liver disease. Once there is
elevation of the liver enzymes, your pediatrician will probably send you to
someone like me who’s a liver expert and takes care of children with liver
disease. What we usually do is we want to make sure that there’s nothing
else going on, that there’s no other condition affecting the liver. Usually if your child’s overweight, we get an ultrasound that shows fat in the
liver. Then, most likely, your child has fatty liver disease. The good thing about
fatty liver, unlike other conditions, is that if you lose weight the process is
reversible. We don’t expect you to lose weight quickly. We just want you to, first
of all, stop gaining weight at the same rate that it has been happening. Second, over time slowly lose weight or allow the child to grow into his or her
weight. You have to think about it as a lifestyle change which is really really
hard, right? You want to make sure that your child knows how to eat healthy and
how to exercise. Usually it involves the whole family. It’s got to be a change of
the whole family because it’s really hard to have your child on a diet when
you’re eating a hamburger over here. That’s not going to work. The most
important thing is going to be the family. Everybody has to participate in
this. We have specific recommendations depending on
the child, their diet, and then exercise. The other thing
is to make sure that they have appropriate bedtimes. We know that sleep also
interferes with eating habits and risk for obesity, so make sure they’re
sleeping. Children need a lot more sleep than we do, so probably eight to ten hours of
sleep a night. The other thing is to make sure they’re drinking lots of water. I’m okay with giving a kid a soda on the weekend if you’re having pizza and, you know, a party but really their main drink should be water, lots of water. If
you have any concern about your child’s weight or some of the complications that
might come with it, some of them are not obvious — we talked about the
fatty liver you can’t see anything happening to their outside — please seek
medical attention. The earlier you intervene in terms of diet and
exercise, they’re more likely that this is a process a lifestyle change that
they will be able to sustain for later on in life.

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