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Maternal Obesity May Up Risk for Future Liver Disease in Offspring

Maternal obesity in early pregnancy linked to increased risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the child by age 25 years

TUESDAY, July 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) — There is a strong association between maternal weight and future nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in offspring, according to a study published online July 18 in the Journal of Hepatology.

Hannes Hagström, M.D., from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, and colleagues used national data to identify all individuals in Sweden with biopsy-verified NAFLD who were 25 years or younger and diagnosed between 1992 and 2016 (165 patients) as well as 717 matched controls to assess the relationship between maternal obesity and NAFLD.

The researchers found that maternal body mass index was associated with offspring NAFLD (underweight women: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.84; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.14 to 5.15; normal weight: reference, aOR, 1; overweight: aOR, 1.51; 95 percent CI, 0.95 to 2.40; and obesity: aOR, 3.26; 95 percent CI, 1.72 to 6.19). Similarly, severe NAFLD (biopsy-proven fibrosis or cirrhosis) was more common in offspring of mothers who were overweight (aOR, 1.94; 95 percent CI, 0.96 to 3.90) or obese (aOR, 3.67; 95 percent CI, 1.61 to 8.38). Findings were similar when adjusting for maternal preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Effect size was not altered by socioeconomic parameters (smoking, mother born outside the Nordic countries, and education).

“The findings are important because obesity is becoming more common at a young age, and fatty liver due to being overweight, is increasing in the world,” Hagström said in a statement. “If a tendency towards obesity and fatty liver disease can be ‘inherited,’ it can have consequences for public health.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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