COMMENTARY

The Hidden Epidemic of Liver Disease in Kids

William F. Balistreri, MD; Stavra Xanthakos, MD, MS; Valerio Nobili, MD

Disclosures

October 08, 2013

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In This Article

An International Panel Talks Pediatric Fatty Liver Disease

William F. Balistreri, MD: Hello. I'm Bill Balistreri, Professor of Pediatric Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We are here today on Medscape via Skype to discuss a major increasing problem in pediatrics, and that is the incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). I'm joined by 2 experts from the United States and Italy. I will ask them to introduce themselves. Stavra?

Stavra Xanthakos, MD, MS: My name is Stavra Xanthakos. I'm Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. I am also Associate Professor and Codirector of the Steatohepatitis Center. Our center began in 2008 and in 2010 joined the NASH [nonalcoholic steatohepatitis] Clinical Research Network, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Valerio Nobili, MD: My name is Valerio Nobili from Rome, Italy. I am the Chief of the Hepato-Metabolic Disease Unit here at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital at the Vatican City. I am also the head of the Liver Research Lab, and in the last year, my principle interest is focused on fatty liver disease in children. The Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital is also one in Italy performing liver transplantation.

Dr. Balistreri: This is the issue.If you had told me 10 years ago that we would need to establish a center for steatohepatitis, I wouldn't have believed you. But unfortunately, the prevalence of this disorder is dramatically increasing both here in the United States and around the world.

The problem is obesity, which is the first step, the gateway to the rest of chronic disease because obesity affects every organ. We know, for example, that there are functional cardiac abnormalities across the spectrum of fatty liver disease and obesity in adolescence. There are other health-related issues, too, so this is clearly a problem that we have to address.

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