2001 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

Dr. A. N. P. Speight

Paediatric Department
University Hospital of North Durham,
North Road,
Durham, DH1 5TW

Inappropriate Child Abuse proceedings against families of paediatric ME/CFS sufferers


To study the prevalence, demography and natural history of paediatric Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in the catchment area of one Health Authority over a 10 year period.


A pro forma was completed for 49 cases of paediatric CFS diagnosed between 1988-96, 30 by personal interview and 19 by case note review. Follow-up period was from 2-10 years. The study included cases across the whole spectrum of severity.


There was a steadily increasing incidence of this condition over the period studied, with a peak of 12 new cases in 1995. Mode of onset was insidious in 38/49 cases. Female:Male ratio was 35:14 (2.5:1). Age of onset ranged from 1.7-16 years (mean 11.8 years). There was a positive family history of CFS in a first degree relative in 7 cases (14%). There was a past history of migraine in 33 cases (67%), and a positive family history of migraine in a first degree relative in 28 cases (57%). Six cases were classified as Mild (12%), 19 as of Moderate severity (39%) and 24 as Severe (49%). Cases were found in all social classes, 6 from Social Class I, 16 from II, 18 from III, 5 from IV and 4 from V. Full recovery was seen in 15 cases (31%) (5 mild, 8 moderate and 2 severe). Mean duration of illness in this group was 5.1 years. Significant improvement (change to a less severe category) was seen in 7 cases (14%). Twenty-seven cases (55%) were static at the time of follow-up, of whom 7 were still in the severe category. School loss was considerable, with a total of 89 academic years being lost out of a possible 220 years, and the average school loss per child was 1.8 years.


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