When it comes to cirrhosis of the liver, many people think “adult disease” first, because it’s commonly associated with alcoholism. However, cirrhosis is a term to describe severe scarring of the liver, which can be caused by a number of factors (other than drinking.)
That means children are not spared from the permanent damage that cirrhosis can cause, and the culprit is usually a genetic condition or disorder of the biliary system, according to Boston Children’s Hospital. Here are 12 things to know about cirrhosis of the liver in kids…
1. Defining Cirrhosis
As we said, cirrhosis isn’t just a drinker’s disease. It is the result of scarring from “long term damage,” notes Boston Children’s Hospital. The source notes while the liver “has an amazing capacity to heal itself,” scar tissue can replace the usually smooth tissue surface of the organ.
“When this happens, blood cannot flow through the liver as easily and the liver cannot work as well,” it says of the scarring. If unchecked, the scar tissue can continue to grow until it replaces the liver’s healthy tissue, “and the organ can actually start to shrink and take on a shrivelled appearance,” it adds.