While not many people are aware, between 6 and 10 percent of minors under the age of 16 are affected by nonalcoholic liver disease and it appears that the numbers are on the rise!
A new study by researchers from Mount Sinai University has finally figured out why this happens, concluding that prenatal exposure to consumer and industrial items’ chemicals leads to this disease in the pediatric population (includes birth age to 16.)
Apparently, these chemicals are endocrine-disrupting, which is linked to the prevalence of possibly cancer-causing liver disease.
The research team used cytokeratin-18 as a new marker for this condition in young ones.
The results were shared in JAMA Network Open not too long ago and they highlight how important it is to understand prenatal exposure to chemicals, especially since nonalcoholic liver disease is becoming more and more common amongst children.
Not only that but developing this illness in your early years can also lead to severe chronic liver disease or even liver cancer later on in life.
The first author of the research, Vishal Midya, shared that “These findings can inform more efficient early life prevention and intervention strategies to address the current non alcoholic fatty liver disease epidemic.”
Senior author, Damaskini Valvi went on to add that “We’re all exposed to these chemicals daily through food we eat, water we drink, and the use of consumer products. This is a serious health problem. These findings show that early-life exposure to many endocrine disrupting chemicals is a risk factor for pediatric non alcoholic liver disease, and draw attention that more investigation is needed to elucidate how environmental chemical exposure may interact with genetic and lifestyle factors in the pathogenesis of liver disease.”
As for the dangerous chemicals that cause this and need to be avoided, they are numerous pesticides, flame retardants, plastics, hazardous metals and many environmental pollutants.
For instance, perfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals” are often used in food packaging and in nonstick pans!
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are bad because they interfere with the metabolic and hormone systems in humans.
As part of this study, the team of researchers measured no less than 45 different chemicals in the urine or blood of 1,108 pregnant women between 2003 and 2010.
Then, when their offspring reached the risk age group of 6 to 11, their enzymes and cytokeratin-18 levels were also measured by the scientists.
This way they were able to measure the risk for liver disease in these kids’ blood and sure enough, it was elevated in the case of those more exposed to the harmful chemicals before birth.