What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease is a condition where too much fat builds up in the liver. It can develop in children who are overweight or who have diabetes. If not treated, fatty liver disease can cause scarring on the liver, which can lead to serious problems.


Most children with fatty liver disease don’t have any symptoms. Some children may feel more tired than usual or have pain in the upper right side of the belly.


Your child’s doctor may suspect fatty liver disease if his or her levels of certain liver enzymes are higher than normal. In some cases, the doctor may order an ultrasound or other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and see how much fat has built up in the liver.


There is no cure for fatty liver disease, so treatment focuses on preventing the disease from getting worse. Your child’s doctor may suggest:

  • exercise and healthy eating to control weight
  • keeping blood sugar levels under control, if your child has diabetes controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels, if necessary.

Learn more about Pediatric Gastroenterology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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