A UK study, investigating the link between low vitamin D status and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease ( NAFLD ) in British children has identified a genetic variant associated with the disease's severity.
The research, conducted by the King's College Hospital Paediatric Liver Centre and the University of Surrey's School of Biosciences and Medicine, and funded by the Children's Liver Disease Foundation retrospectively analysed the medical records of 120 paediatric patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The findings could carry significant implications for clinicians in light of the rising number of childhood NAFLD cases.
High levels of vitamin D deficiency and increasing numbers of rickets cases are thought to be due to the obesity epidemic, more children increasingly choosing to play indoors rather than outside and the excessive use of sun-creams.
The data support recent research that revealed an association between low vitamin D status and incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and is an important development in helping clinicians better understand the growing rate of NAFLD in children throughout the western world.
NAFLD is the term used to describe fat build-up in liver cells in people who do not drink alcohol excessively.
NAFLD is rapidly becoming the most common liver disease worldwide and is the most common persistent liver disorder in western countries and is estimated to affect up to 10% of Europe's paediatric population.
The disease has an estimated overall prevalence of 20% to 30% across Europe.
Patients were found to have low vitamin D blood levels throughout the entire year, not just in the winter months, plus the majority of samples were found to be deficient or insufficient in vitamin D status compared to national UK and US health standards.
The study also detected a variant of the NADSYN1 gene which was associated with NAFLD severity in patients. ( Xagena )
Source: European Association for the Study of the Liver ( EASL ), 2014