Studies Explore Childhood Fatigue and CFS
Few studies have examined the problem of chronic fatigue in children and adolescents and its potential impact on functioning. A recent study by Susan Torres-Harding, PhD, and her colleagues (including longtime CFS authority Leonard Jason, PhD) approached the issue by comparing the psychosocial, family and physical functioning of young people with and without fatigue of a chronic nature.
The study included 36 children from the greater Chicago area who were chronically fatigued and 21 children without fatigue. The children and their parents completed a comprehensive medical history questionnaire and questionnaires assessing psychological functioning, family functioning and school attendance. The results indicated that children with fatigue of a chronic nature tended to have more difficulties in overall physical and psychological functioning. Psychosocial difficulties included a variety of factors such as greater feelings of anxiety and withdrawal.
In addition, the chronically fatigued children reported more severe physical complaints and experienced more frequent disruption of activities than their nonfatigued counterparts.
Not surprisingly, these findings suggest that children and adolescents with chronic fatigue may be dealing with a range of associated difficulties, including limitations in physical and psychosocial function and a significantly reduced ability to engage in the normal activities of youth.
In a separate pediatric prevalence study of chronic fatigue syndrome from the same Chicago population, Karen Jordan, PhD, Dr. Jason and a team of researchers estimate that CFS may be more prevalent in adolescents than previously thought—and clearly higher in adolescents than in prepubescent children. Out of an overall pediatric prevalence of 60 cases per 100,000 in children ages 5 to 17, the prevalence rate for adolescents accounted for the lion’s share of cases. The study showed an adolescent prevalence rate of 181 cases per 100,000 in children ages 13 to 17.
In related news, a pediatric case definition for CFS was recently published by a working group from the International Association of CFS/ME (IACFS/ME). See the full story in this issue of the CFIDSLink.
Torres-Harding SR, Jordan K, Jason LA, Aria R. Psychosocial and physical impact of chronic fatigue in a community-based sample of children and adolescents. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 2006;13(2/3):55-74.
Jordan K, Jason LA, Mears C, Katz BZ, Rademaker A, Huang CF, Richman J, McCready W, Ayers, PM, Taylor KK. Prevalence of pediatric chronic fatigue syndrome in a community-based sample. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 2006;13(2/3):55-74.