Dr. A. N. P. Speight
University Hospital of North Durham,
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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