Two Pediatric CFS Studies from the
Pediatric CFS Is the Focus of Two
Recent CFS Studies
The vast majority of CFS research focuses
on adults; however, earlier this year, two studies out of the
explored different elements relating to children with CFS.
In the first study, research officers Guitta Saidi and Linda
Haines of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in
, set out to describe the characteristics of child and
adolescent CFS patients being treated by general practitioners (GPs) in primary care settings and
how GPs investigate and manage these patients. Noting that most studies on
children with CFS have been done in tertiary care settings (larger
facilities), little is known about how such cases are managed in
smaller primary care settings.
What they found
was that patient characteristic are comparable to those reported in tertiary care settings (73%
girls; median age 12.9 years) and that GPs are diagnosing CFS within
a short time and applying a wide range of referral and
advice strategies. Promising results, given the skepticism sometimes faced by CFS
patients from their doctors.
The most common advice consisted of setting activity goals, pacing,
rest and graded exercise.
The second study, by psychiatrist Dr. Alison Sankey and a team
of researchers, followed up with 28 young people between the ages of 7 and 17
who were diagnosed with CFS and treated by a pediatric/psychiatric service. This
follow up occurred, on average, three years after initial treatment. By this
time, most young people regarded themselves as fully recovered, however
objective improvement was variable, and about one-third were still experiencing
some disabling symptoms. More disturbing, the researchers also discovered that
CFS had impacted the education and career plans of virtually all the young
people, and over half experienced difficulty returning to school. The report
highlights the need for early diagnosis and continuing pediatric support to
reduce symptom persistence during what seems to be a very sensitive recovery
Perhaps the fairly quick diagnosis by GPs indicated in the
first study will generate some improvement in CFS-specific challenges like those
experienced by the youth in Sankey’s study. Certainly, both studies underscore
the fact that CFS affects children and adolescents as well as adults, providing
a unique set of obstacles to overcome at a very formative time of life.