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Prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in pediatrics and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Title: Prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in pediatrics and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Source: World Journal of Pediatrics 2024, May 21. [Epublication]

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Date of publication: May 2024  

Publication type: Systematic review 

Abstract: Background: As childhood obesity escalates worldwide, the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in pediatric and adolescent populations is also increasing. However, systematic studies and meta-analyses evaluating the prevalence of pediatric NAFLD remain limited.

Methods: The MEDLINE, Korean Medical Database (KMBASE), Embase, Global Health, and Cochrane Library databases were searched from January 1997 to April 2023. Search terms included NAFLD or steatosis; nonalcoholic or steatohepatitis; child(ren), adolescent, or teenager; and prevalence, incidence, or epidemiology. A random-effects meta-analysis model was used to estimate the prevalence of pediatric NAFLD.

Results: A total of 2116 publications were found, of which 62 were included in the meta-analysis. Among them, 27 reported the prevalence in the general population and 39 in the obese population. The worldwide pooled prevalence of pediatric NAFLD was 13% [95% confidence interval (CI) 9-18%] in the general population and 47% (95% CI 41%-53%) in the obese population. Among 16 studies in the general population and 18 in the obese population, NAFLD prevalence varied by gender. In the general population, the prevalence of NAFLD was 15% (95% CI 8%-23%) in males and 10% (95% CI 6%-15%) in females. In the obese population, it was 54% (95% CI 46%-61%) in males and 39% (95% CI 30%-49%) in females.

Conclusions: The global prevalence of pediatric NAFLD is rising in both the general and obese populations. Given the increasing rates of childhood obesity, epidemiological studies on the prevalence and incidence of NAFLD are needed.

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