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Changes to terminology for fatty liver diseases

In June 2023, a group of multi-national liver societies announced a change in the terminology used for fatty liver diseases. Some of these changes will be important for our children and families and you may start to hear the new terms being used in clinics and hospitals.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) will be known as Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD)

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) will be known as Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH)

There are several reasons why these changes have taken place:

  1. To make the terms more accurate

The old terms were introduced in the 1980’s, before much of the research into NAFLD and NASH took place. We now know that most of these diseases are related to metabolic factors and the new terms will reflect this.

  1. To reduce stigma

Patients and families have indicated that terms such as “fatty” and “alcoholic” can have stigma attached to them. Changing the terms will hopefully reduce this.

It can be confusing when terminology changes in this way and we may see both sets of terms being used for the next few years. Some clinics and hospitals may start to use them before others. The new terms are also quite medical and may take some time for people to get used to.

For the moment, CLDF will continue to use the old terms in our online and printed literature. However, we will also refer to the new terms where we can, and we will update our materials when appropriate.

If you are unsure about a term or have any questions about what this means for you, speak to your medical team.

For more information on the development of the new terms, click here.

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