Low Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Youth

Pediatricians more likely than GPs to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescent patients

TUESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Incidence and prevalence rates of clinically diagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents are low, and diagnosis is more common among pediatricians than general practitioners (GPs), according to a study published online April 18 in Pediatrics.

Sanne L. Nijhof, M.D., from the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital in Utrecht, Netherlands, and colleagues assessed CFS morbidity and determined the prevalence of GP-diagnosed adolescent CFS and the incidence rates of pediatrician-diagnosed adolescent CFS. Prevalence was estimated from questionnaires completed by GPs on CFS diagnosed in their adolescent patients aged 10 to 18 years. Incidence was estimated from new cases reported by pediatricians in 2008. For each reported case, pediatricians and patients completed questionnaires to evaluate CFS morbidity.

The investigators found that CFS prevalence was 111 per 100,000 adolescents. The incidence was 12 cases per 100,000 adolescents per year. A total of 91 and 93 percent of newly reported patients with CFS were at or above cut-off points for severe fatigue and physical impairment, respectively. During the previous six months, 45 percent of patients with CFS reported more than 50 percent school absence.

"In contrast to the high acceptance of adolescent CFS among pediatricians, CFS is probably under-recognized by other primary health care providers," the authors write. "The primary adverse impact of CFS is extreme disability associated with considerable school absence."

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