How does the prevalence of fatty liver disease vary by age?

Updated: Apr 12, 2018
  • Author: Emily Tommolino, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Fatty liver occurs in all age groups. With respect to alcoholic steatosis, the liver handles alcohol differently as the body ages, and alcohol toxicity increases with age because of increased organ susceptibility. These phenomena are thought to be related to a mitochondrial transport defect developing with age, as well as to decreased function of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum and metabolism of CYP2E1-dependent microsomal ethanol oxidation.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease among adolescents in the United States, including about 8% of lean teens. [94] However, findings from the Project Viva study indicate that pediatric overweight or obesity as early as age 8 years increases the risk of development of NAFLD. [100, 101] Older age often is predictive of more severe grading of fibrosis. NASH is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in adults in the United States (followed by ALD and hepatitis C). [95] It is now probably the leading reason for mild elevations of transaminases. NASH has recurred within 6 months after pediatric or adult liver transplantation. [8, 9, 10]

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