Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease spectrum defined by fat buildup in the liver and is related to metabolic syndrome comorbidities. In geographically constrained studies, the frequency of NAFLD in children has grown over time, with notable ethnic inequalities identified. For a study, researchers sought to offer a current, national analysis of temporal trends in pediatric NAFLD-related hospitalizations and associated co-morbidities, as well as to look for racial/ethnic inequalities.

From 2004 to 2018, a cross-sectional investigation was carried out utilizing the National Inpatient Sample (NIS), which comprised NAFLD-related hospitalizations of children aged 0–17 years old according to ICD-9/10 diagnostic codes. Descriptive statistics were used to examine rates and patient characteristics, and survey logistic regression was used to analyze relationships. Joinpoint regression is used to evaluate temporal trends. 

There was an overall rise in pediatric NAFLD-related hospitalizations with an AAPC of 6.6, with Hispanic children having the greatest rates (AAPC=11.1) compared to NH-White (AAPC=4.1) and NH-Black (AAPC=2.1). When race/ethnicity and NAFLD hospitalization were compared, Hispanic patients had a higher risk (odds ratio [OR]=1.64, 95% CI=1.51–1.77) and non-Hispanic (NH)-Black patients had a lower risk (OR=0.49, 95% CI=0.45–0.54).

Using a national database, they discovered significant increases in NAFLD-related hospitalizations, with Hispanic patients having the greatest prevalence and rates. Furthermore, sex and comorbidities revealed a significant association with these hospitalization rates, indicating the need for additional research on these interactions and highlighting the possibility for treatments focused on high-risk populations.