‘Chronic fatigue syndrome on the rise among 16-year-olds’ | BBC News | 25 January 2016

January 25, 2016

From BBC News, 25 January 2016.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is more common than previously thought, particularly among girls at the age of 16, research by the University of Bristol suggests.

Persistent exhaustion was found to affect 2% of 16-year-olds – and almost twice as many girls as boys.

Children from poorer families were also more likely to have the condition.

The Bristol study, published in Pediatrics, asked more than 5,700 parents and their children about their experiences of persistent exhaustion.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME, is a debilitating disease which has a major impact on the lives of those affected. It causes persistent fatigue that does not go away with rest or sleep.

This large population study found that one in 50 16-year-olds have CFS/ME lasting more than six months and nearly one in 33 have CFS/ME persisting for more than three months.

Yet only one in 1,000 are diagnosed with the condition.


In the study, those with CFS/ME missed, on average, more than half a day of school every week.

Boys and girls appeared to be equally affected at the age of 13, but by the time they were 16, CFS/ME was more common in girls.

Children from families with poor housing, financial difficulties and a lack of support for their mother were more likely to report problems of severe fatigue.

The study authors said this dispelled the commonly held view that CFS/ME was a “middle-class” illness, or “yuppie flu”.

The diagnoses of the condition in the study were based on responses to questionnaires sent to teenagers and their parents, and were not made by a doctor.

Dr Esther Crawley, senior report author and consultant paediatrician specialising in CFS/ME, said treatment for teenagers with the condition was effective but few had access to treatment in the UK.

“Children attending my specialist service only attend two days a week of school on average. This means that only the most severe cases are getting help.

“As paediatricians, we need to get better at identifying CFS/ME, particularly in those children from disadvantaged backgrounds who may be less able to access specialist care.”


She said experts still did not know exactly why or how the condition is triggered, but research showed it could be successfully treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in young people.

Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of Action for ME, said the study pointed to the need for more effective treatments.

“We know from contact with the parents of children with ME that this disabling condition impacts on every area of family life.

“The reality is that many young people miss considerably more than half a day of school a week, while for the most severely affected, their disabling symptoms are compounded by the isolation and loss that comes with being housebound and/or bed bound.”




8 thoughts on “‘Chronic fatigue syndrome on the rise among 16-year-olds’ | BBC News | 25 January 2016”

  1. Yet another blatant CBT/ GET PACE trial-derived propaganda exercise by Esther Crawley, which the BBC have swallowed hook, line & sinker!
    What criteria were they using in order to give the diagnosis of CFS/ME ? Oxford ?
    I hope that the MEA will respond appropriately.

  2. The study is here. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/01/22/peds.2015-3434?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

    Criteria used: ‘parental report of unexplained disabling fatigue lasting ≥6 months’. Note: ‘parental report’ and basically Oxford criteria.

    Worth noting also: ‘After excluding children with high levels of depressive symptoms, the prevalence was 0.60% (95% CI: 0.37 to 0.84).’

    Study is worthless.

  3. Yet another diagnosis by questionnaire. Why are Esther Crawley and colleagues being allowed to produce statements like this without any scientific background?

    Once again we here from ridiculously simplistic diagnosis that children have CFS/ME. How can they possibly know what these children are suffering from?

    Are viruses and insect bites being put into this equation?

    I’m sure you will let the BBC know of this folly and ask them to put the physiological explanations as to why ME/CFS is nothing to do with poor background, poverty etc. Are these 16 year olds now going to suffer the devastating effects of CBT and GET?

    How much more offensive can it get? No need to say as we all know!

    Sonya Chowdhry could do better in her response as well. Please ask the parents of these children to get in touch with MEA?

  4. “She said experts still did not know exactly why or how the condition is triggered, but research showed it could be successfully treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in young people.”……

    Try telling that to Karina Hansen. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=990899994304791

    I wonder what the late, great paediatrician Dr Alan Franklin would have made of Esther Crawley’s questionnaire about “fatigue”.


  5. Particularly for people newly diagnosed with, or with a family member with ME, the following information is necessary reading. It gives a lot of background history and the reasons why those of us with very long-term ME are not the most enthusiastic recipients, to put it mildly, of any so-called research which comes from this particular quarter or from the other familiar proponents of CBT etc as a “treatment” for ME.
    As Greg Crowhurst states: “The quotes below are the result of a lengthy search I have conducted. All the material is publically available, I have tried to follow copyright restrictions where stated.” so I don’t think there is any need for any over cautious moderation, dear MEA! Please print it:


  6. Message sent to BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour on 28 January.

    I would like to complain about Jenny Murray’s interview on ME/CFS yesterday. She asked her interviewee, Kirsty: “How much _is_ what’s going on a mental thing that you somehow have to get your head around?” (04:54)

    Fortunately, Kirsty appears to have misheard her and answered _as if_ she had asked: How much _of_ what’s going on is a mental thing you have to do get your head round?

    To clarify: ME/CFS is not ‘a mental thing’, it’s a physical condition with an unclear cause.

    Let’s hope this was just a careless slip on Jenny’s part.

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