Lactating mice pass along common antimicrobial to pups, initiating liver damage: Triclosan is used in everything from cleaners to pesticides to toys

In mouse studies, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that lactating mothers expose their feeding pups to triclosan, an antimicrobial commonly used in consumer products, resulting in early signs of liver damage that can eventually lead to more serious impairment and illness, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The findings published in the July 27, 2022 online issue of Nature Communications.

NAFLD is the most common chronic liver condition in the United States, affecting an estimated 100 million adults. It occurs when fat accumulates in liver cells due to causes other than excessive alcohol use, impairing organ function. The precise cause is not known, but diet and genetics play substantial roles. Up to 50 percent of obese people are believed to have NAFLD.

Approximately 20 percent of persons with NAFLD transition to NASH, a more advanced form of the disease characterized by increasingly severe inflammation and organ damage that may result in scarring of the liver, cirrhosis and cancer.

According to a study published by UC San Diego scientists in June 2022, NASH is the fastest growing cause of liver cancer deaths globally, especially in the Americas. It is driven by rapidly rising obesity rates. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. in 2017 was 42.4 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control, up from 30.5 percent in 2000.

The prevalence of NAFLD in children is rising, along with obesity rates in the young. It is estimated that 9.6 percent of children ages 2 to 19 years have NAFLD. A recent study by UC San Diego scientists found that pediatric NAFLD increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

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