UCSDParents with children having liver problems may find this news to be quite relevant. A new study from UC San Diego School of Medicine claims that the test most generally utilized to screen pediatric patients for chronic liver disease is often erroneously interpreted in several children’s hospitals all through the United States.

Presently, screening for chronic liver disease is claimed to be most generally done by means of serum alanine aminotransferease (ALT) activity. It is planned to find out which children suffer from liver diseases linked to obesity. The screening wants to find out which of the children ought to be treated if they have viral hepatitis. They also determine as to which children consume medications that are injuring their liver. Last but not the least; the screening verifies which children should not take part in clinical trails due to their livers.

“Our first step was to find out what value was being used in the nation’s children’s hospitals, We found such a broad range between hospitals for ALT values that they could not possibly be biologically appropriate. This means that a child identified with liver disease at one hospital would go undetected in another,” commented Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, UCSD School of Medicine and Director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego.

These variations are not believed to be based on biology or the specific machine utilized for examining at the hospital or lab, but rather the traits of the populations applied by individual labs to find out their own detailed ranges.

To discover a biologically accurate technique, Schwimmer and his team crafted sex-specific, biology-based, pediatric ALT thresholds by means of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Examination Survey. The examiners evaluated ALT in almost a 1,000 children who encompassed no detectable liver disease or risk factors for it. Based upon this group of fit metabolically normal children, the upper limit of normal for ALT could be fixed at 22 for girls and 25 for boys. This is said to be less than half of what is utilized in the general children’s hospital in the United States.

To verify how helpful these new standards would be for recognition, roughly four groups of children were accumulated for supplementary testing namely children with normal livers, with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with chronic Hepatitis B virus, and with Hepatitis C virus. These children were utilized to pit the new biologically-based thresholds against those presently applied by acute care children’s hospitals nationwide. Based on the existing values, just one-third to one-half of children with chronic liver disease could be identified. The new values could enhance the rate of detection to 70 to 80 percent.

Examiners performing clinical trials for the growth of new drugs seem to depend on ALT to screen out children with liver disease, usually those with an ALT that could be three times more than normal. If the threshold value is claimed to be too high, the strategy applied by pharmaceutical companies appears to enlarge this fault by a factor of three which may generate safety problems for a few children.

In an attempt to crack this problem, experts suggest a three-fold plan that comprises of re-examination of laboratory thresholds utilized for children. The next part of the plan includes alteration of exclusion criteria for clinical trials to correctly recognize children with liver disease. The third part contains motivating physicians to consider applying the threshold values resultant from the UCSD study to detect children with likely liver disease.

The study is published in Gastroenterology.