1 Paediatric Liver, GI and Nutrition Centre, King's College London Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine and King's College Hospital, UK.
Paediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in childhood and adolescence. Although the condition is similar in many ways to NAFLD in adults, there are important differences in predisposition, presentation, differential diagnosis and potentially also in optimal management. Antenatal and early childhood exposures and the particular vulnerabilities to environmental influences in a growing child, present unique opportunities for intervention and modification of risk. The prevalence of significant fibrosis on biopsy in preadolescent children in the context of NAFLD should not be ignored, but the relevance of this fibrosis to long-term outcome is as yet unknown. The approach to children and adolescents with suspected NAFLDneeds to include an assessment of risk factors in addition to exclusion of alternative or coexisting liver diseases. Liver biopsy is indicated for younger children and for those without clear predisposing factors leading to metabolic syndrome, also for those in whom significant fibrosis is suspected. The histology in children and adolescents differs from adults in whom type 2 NAFLD may be more prevalent, which is associated in turn with more significant fibrosis. Management in children and adolescents needs to focus on lifestyle intervention, which when weight loss is achieved, demonstrates excellent results in terms of resolution of disease. Appropriate intervention in childhood and adolescence may prove instrumental in avoiding the need for later transplantation while also decreasing all-cause mortality in these at-risk individuals.