Fatty Liver Disease| Diagnosis & Treatment

How is fatty liver disease diagnosed?

A childs doctor will usually make a diagnosis of NAFLD based on a combination of medical history, physical examination and blood tests. Children who are obese and have higher-than-normal levels of certain liver enzymes on routine blood tests are more likely to have NAFLD.

The doctor may order an ultrasound (a painless, non-invasive imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound) to confirm the diagnosis.

In some cases, the doctor may order a needle biopsy to look for signs of fat buildup and scarring in the liver. This will tell whether a child has simple NAFLD or NASH.

If a child is diagnosed with NAFLD, doctors will monitor the child’s liver by several means, including periodic:

  • Blood tests, to check how well your child’s liver is working.
  • Ultrasounds.
  • Physical exams.

How is fatty liver disease treated?

There is no simple cure for NAFLD. The focus of treatment is to prevent the disease from getting worse. This includes:

  • encouraging healthy eating and weight loss
  • maintaining tight control of blood sugar levels for children with diabetes
  • monitoring the child for complications or progression from NAFLD to more severe NASH

Some early studies suggest that vitamin E, an antioxidant, may have some benefit. However, it should not be seen as a substitute for weight loss, healthy eating and physical activity.