A study presented at DDW 2013 was included in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article Fatty Liver Disease: More Prevalent in Children. The article quotes Naim Alkhouri, MD, director of the Pediatric Preventive Cardiology and Metabolic Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic, and describes his research:

At a major conference in the field called Digestive Disease Week, Dr. Alkhouri and his colleagues presented the results of a pilot study. It showed that different concentrations of chemicals were found in the breath of obese kids with fatty liver disease compared with those without. If the test is validated upon further study, it may be useful clinically in several years, he says.

Dr. Alkhouri also blogged about the study in Scientific American:

Physicians would welcome a non-invasive, painless way to provide families with a scientific and measurable assessment showing that a child’s weight affects his or her likelihood of developing an array of chronic diseases.

A new study that fellow researchers at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and I are presenting at this year’s Digestive Disease Week (DDW) conference makes such concrete evidence easier than ever to access — less painful than the prick of a needle during an annual physical examination and easier still than a urinalysis.

Imagine — a breath test that assesses whether a child is obese, while also giving clues as to a child’s likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and sleep apnea. It could be a critical research tool for physicians and an imperative wake-up call for parents.

Like a fingerprint, this breath test offers an analytical snapshot of the volatile organic compounds in breath that are unique to each individual. In our study, the test identified obese children as compared to their lean counterparts at an accuracy rate of 92 percent.

You can read the abstract on the DDW website (“Breathprints of Childhood Obesity: Changes in Volatile Organic Compounds in Obese Children and Adolescents Compared to Healthy Controls”) or on MyDDW.