ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A liver disease that alcoholics usually get is now showing up in children.
According to a study that was published in The Wall Street Journal, about 7 million children in the U.S. suffer from a liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis and even worse, liver failure.
Miriam Vos, a pediatrics professor at Emory University School of Medicine who studies and treats children with fatty liver disease believes this is caused by the existence of fructose in their diet.
“This is just really worrisome to have this number of children who have a disease this severe,” she told the paper.
Dr. Vos and her team used data from a national health study for elevated liver enzymes.
Researchers say the increase of the disease in children is tied to the obesity epidemic. Roughly 40 percent of obese children have the disease.
As obesity levels tail off, the numbers of children affected are still rising.
Treatments for fatty liver disease include weight loss through diet and exercise.
Researchers are afraid that these children may develop nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is a liver inflammation caused by a buildup of fat.
It is also the third-most-common reason for a liver transplant.