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Is NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in kids reversible?

Read this to know if your kid can be saved from the perils or liver diseases.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : July 10, 2018 8:27 PM IST

You might be raising your eyebrows and thinking why we are even talking about non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and children in the same breath. But the fact is we know that these kinds of serious illness are no more just for the old and ailing and kids are also falling prey to the same. Liver diseases are on the rise in children these days and yes many do suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases like adults. Here are 12 superfoods that help build immunity in kids.

Some of the reasons for this condition in children are childhood obesity, a pre-diabetic condition, dependency on junk food and lack of physical activity. However, once liver diseases catch up with kids it becomes difficult to reverse the condition or preserve the crucial organ. Since more kids these days are suffering from NAFLD we asked Ms Shalini Arvind, Chief Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore if this condition can be reversed in kids. Here is what she says:

"NAFLD has an irreversible impact on a child. Having liver-related complications can have serious consequences on a child which may lead to liver failure in the future. NAFLD can be triggered by diabetes or pre-diabetes, childhood obesity, elevation in blood lipids and also due to high blood pressure. Yes, kids can suffer from these malaises. Children who suffer from type 2 diabetes are more prone to NAFLD and NASH. It is more commonly seen in obese kids. If your child is obese, the ideal thing is to have their liver enzymes checked. Diagnosis occurs through routine blood tests or through abdominal ultrasound or CT scan. If an overweight child exhibits any mild inflation in their liver, then the child is suspected to have NAFLD." Here are seven brain-boosting foods for your child.

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What can be done?

"Once the child checks positive for NAFLD, they have to get checked for NASH as well as it is more severe and aggressive. This can be done by doing a liver biopsy, the only through which a diagnosis of NASH or fatty liver can be confirmed. A fragment of the liver is examined under a microscope to check for fatty infiltration along with scarring and if both are present when the child is diagnosed with NASH, if not then it is only fatty liver. Consulting a physician on the risk factors associated with this is essential. Though both NAFLD and NASH aren't reversible, they can be prevented," advises Shalini. Here are four risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases.

How can liver diseases in kids be prevented?

'Keeping a check on the kid's diet should be the priority. Parents should ensure that they engage kids in physical activities. They should encourage kids to participate in physical and sports activities in schools or should help them develop a hobby for sports. This would help in managing the kid's body weight and thus reducing the chances of fat getting stored in the body. Losing excess fat and keeping tabs on one's cholesterol is also suggested for regression of fat within the liver. Children should be allotted at least an hour or two of physical exertion a day in addition to following a good and a balanced diet, especially if the child is overweight. Their food intake should also change, like limiting portions and eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats helps to keep the liver healthy,' says Shalini.

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