Open Access Open Badges Research article

Ethnicity and elevated liver transaminases among newly diagnosed children with type 2 diabetes

Omar D Hudson1, Martha Nunez3 and Gabriel Q Shaibi123*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix, AZ, USA

2 Center for Metabolic and Vascular Biology, Arizona State University

3 College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, 500 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ, 85004, USA

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BMC Pediatrics 2012, 12:174  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-174

Published: 7 November 2012



To examine the influence of ethnicity on liver transaminases among adolescents with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


A retrospective medical chart review of 57 (30 males and 27 females) newly diagnosed patients with T2DM. Ethnicity was determined by self-report and height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) were obtained using standard clinical procedures. Fasting levels of alanine aminotransaminase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were collected prior to the initiation of any therapy.


Age, gender, height, weight, BMI, and HbA1c did not differ between ethnic groups. Compared to African-Americans, Hispanics had significantly higher ALT (23.9 ± 3.4 vs. 107.8 ± 20.3, p=0.002) and AST (17.7 ± 2.5 vs. 71.1 ± 15.7, p<0.001) and were significantly more likely to have ALT values above the upper limit of normal (20% vs. 71%, p=0.005) and twice the upper limit of normal (0% vs. 39%, p=0.05) as well as AST values above the upper limit of normal (0% vs. 53%, p=0.002). No differences in ALT or AST were found between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites or between African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites.


These preliminary findings suggest that Hispanic children with T2DM may be at higher risk for developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and indicate that a comprehensive hepatic evaluation is warranted in this population. Future studies that incorporate more precise and proximal measures of liver health are warranted in this population.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Fatty liver; Alanine aminotransferase; Aspartate aminotransferase