News Release

Bottle-fed babies born to obese mothers risk developing dangerous liver disease as teens

Maternal pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index and duration of breastfeeding found to have a direct link to the risk of an infant developing fatty liver disease in adolescence

Peer-Reviewed Publication

European Association for the Study of the Liver

April 13, 2016, Barcelona, Spain: Data presented today demonstrates that healthy maternal Body Mass Index (BMI) and exclusively breastfeeding a child for at least six months can reduce the risk of infants developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in adolescence. The results were presented at The International Liver CongressTM 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

Pre-pregnancy BMI within the normal range was shown to reduce risk of adolescent NAFLD by a half (Odds Ratio (OR) 0.49, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.33-0.72, p<0.001) and exclusively breastfeeding for at least six months reduced the risk of adolescent NAFLD by a third (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.56-0.95, p<0.03).

The prevalence of NAFLD in children and adolescents is rising.1 Recent studies suggest that it has become the most common liver disease in people aged two to 19 years old, with half of obese children suffering from the condition.1 Factors including excessive childhood weight gain are believed to be key contributors to this rise.2 In the long-term, NAFLD can lead to scarring (fibrosis) of the liver and a potentially life-threatening condition called cirrhosis in some individuals.3

"We wanted to see if there was any association between adolescent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, maternal factors and infant nutrition," said Dr Oyekoya Ayonrinde, Clinical Senior Lecturer for Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia and lead study author. "Our results demonstrate the grave impact maternal factors can have on the risk of developing liver disease in adolescence."

The Australian authors of the Raine Study, collected data such as maternal pregnancy, birth, childhood and adolescent characteristics through questionnaires, direct interviews, physical examinations and blood tests. Liver ultrasounds were conducted in 1,170 seventeen year-olds to diagnose NAFLD.

Out of the study cohort, over 15% (n=179) of teenagers were diagnosed as having NAFLD. There was a lower prevalence of adolescent NAFLD in individuals who were exclusively breastfed as infants for six or more months compared to those who were breastfed for less than six months (11.3 vs 17.8%, p=0.003). However, breastfeeding beyond nine months did not further reduce the odds of NAFLD during adolescent (OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.46-1.16, p=0.18).

"The findings of this large-scale study have enhanced our understanding of what factors can contribute towards future NAFLD in adolescence," said Professor Laurent Castera, EASL Secretary General. "The notable differences in the results demonstrate the importance of proper infant nutrition and the benefit of exclusive and extended breastfeeding for six months."


About The International Liver Congress™

This annual congress is the biggest event in the EASL calendar, attracting scientific and medical experts from around the world to learn about the latest in liver research. Attending specialists present, share, debate and conclude on the latest science and research in hepatology, working to enhance the treatment and management of liver disease in clinical practice. This year, the congress is expected to attract approximately 10,000 delegates from all corners of the globe. The International Liver Congress™ takes place from April 13 - 17, 2016, at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain.

About EASL

Since EASL's foundation in 1966, this not-for-profit organisation has grown to over 4,000 members from all over the world, including many of the leading hepatologists in Europe and beyond. EASL is the leading liver association in Europe, having evolved into a major European Association with international influence, with an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.


For more information, please contact the ILC Press Office at:

Onsite location reference

Fatty liver disease: Clinical, Hall 8.1
Friday 15 April, 08:00 - 18:00
Presenter: Oyekoya Ayonrinde, Australia
Abstract: FRI-321, Maternal obesity and duration of breastfeeding influence the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adolescents

Author disclosures of interest



1 Widhalm et al. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a challenge for pediatricians. International Journal of Obesity. 2010; 34(10):1451-1467.

2 Modern Medicine Network. Pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Available from: Last accessed: March 2016.

3 British Liver Trust. Non-Alcohol Related Fatty Liver Disease. Available from: Last accessed: March 2016.

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