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Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver is the buildup of fat in liver cells and is a common type of liver disease in the United States. By itself, it rarely leads to severe liver damage.

Fatty liver can result from excessive alcohol consumption. However, it can also happen in people who rarely drink and in this case is called "nonalcoholic fatty liver disease" or "nonalcoholic steatohepatitis," or NASH. ("Steato-" means fat.) With NASH, a patient's liver shows some inflammation that in some cases can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver tissue).

The amount of fat in the liver may decrease when overweight people lose weight, when diabetics have well-controlled blood sugars, and when cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lowered.

Hepatitis B and Pregnancy

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a pregnant woman poses a serious risk to the newborn infant. This is called perinatal HBV transmission.

Pregnant women can unknowingly have HBV in their blood and so pass it on to their infants at birth who at first may not look or feel sick, but as they get older, may have liver damage. Nearly one quarter of babies who develop lifelong HBV infections will die of liver disease.

In cases where HBV infection is known of prior to birth, the HBV vaccine is given to the newborn in a series of three shots. The first shot within 12 hours of birth, along with another shot, hepatitis B immune globulin. The next two shots of hepatitis B vaccine will be given along with other routine shots the infant will receive. All household/family members should get a blood test for hepatitis B. If the blood test is negative, hepatitis B vaccine should be given to these other household members.

However, hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants to protect them from becoming infected. If your blood test for hepatitis B was negative, the newborn will still receive the hepatitis B vaccine series with other baby shots, but will not need a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin.

Diabetes and Hepatitis

People living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus have higher rates of hepatitis B than the general population.

Among people living with diabetes, the hepatitis B virus is known to spread through contact with infected blood, primarily because of shared devices including blood glucose meters, fingerstick devices or other diabetes-care equipment such as syringes or insulin pens.

The hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body a week at minimum. This makes it even more easily transmitted, and it can still cause infection if it enters the body of an uninfected person.

Hepatitis B infection in diabetics often occurs assisted living, long-term care facilities and nursing homes. These infections are believed to have occurred from use of the same blood glucose meter in close succession for more than one resident without the required cleaning and disinfection between use, and use of the same fingerstick devices for more than one resident. Additionally, use of the same injection equipment such as a syringe or insulin pen for more than one person opens the door to transmission of the hepatitis B virus.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend Hepatitis B vaccination for all:

  • Unvaccinated adults with diabetes who are younger than 60 years of age, and vaccination also given to adults diagnosed with diabetes in the past.