We may be predisposed to NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) from birth, a new study suggests.
Data collected from more than 530 children showed that either very high or very low birthweight was associated with a later diagnosis (via biopsy) of NAFLD. The average age of diagnosis was 12.
The researchers did not say whether family lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, were a factor. However, an article at Science Daily noted that issues can be present from birth onward when a child has a very high or low weight, which suggests either a genetic tie-in or that the lifestyle of the mother during her pregnancy could be part of the equation.
One part of the puzzle that’s notable is that it appears low-birthweight children are at even higher risk for certain types of disease later in life than high-birthweight children, meaning despite usual assumptions in both the scientific and lay communities regarding fat and health, an overweight condition did not initially contribute to those types of disease in the children studied.
A Healthy Pregnancy
Because so little is known about the connection thus far, it’s a good idea to practice healthy habits during pregnancy.
- Follow your obstetrician’s instructions on diet. If you have special dietary considerations or health issues, she should custom-create a diet plan for you to remain well during this time.
- Once you have the green light from your doctor, add more vegetables to your diet. Eat an adequate amount of protein and if you can tolerate it, dairy. Controlled amounts of nuts and olive or coconut oil are also beneficial. Limit fruits and fruit juices.
- Again, get your doctor’s approval first, but once you have it, engage in regular exercise appropriate to pregnancy and to your current health status.
- Make sure you get plenty of rest during your pregnancy.
- If you have fatty liver disease or any metabolic or endocrine disorders in your family (or if you have any of these yourself), be aware that you could pass on an increased risk of these issues to your baby. Don’t feel guilty – nobody is absolutely perfect, and we all pass along more genetics than our blue eyes, height, or love for music. But do be on the lookout for possible conditions that could crop up later in life for your child. Start her on a healthy regimen as soon as she begins solid foods, and make sure you two, and the entire family, get regular exercise.
- Breastfeed if possible. If not, ask your child’s pediatrician for recommendation on an appropriate infant formula.