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Co-morbid conditions in children with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) – a retrospective case note review of a large cohort
  1. LM Oliver1,
  2. K Patel2
  1. 1Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH), Brighton, UK
  2. 2Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH), Brighton, UK

Abstract

Aims CFS/ME is a complex illness, causing severe incapacitating fatigue, physical and cognitive complaints and is as disabling as many other serious chronic conditions. The prevalence in children is estimated to be 0.2-0.5%. The aim of this study was to take a cohort of children and adolescents with the condition and determine the pattern of co-morbid conditions.

Methods Our study took the form of a quantitative and semi-qualitative analysis undertaken as a retrospective case note review of a cohort of 131 patients attending a hospital based, consultant-led specialist CFS/ME clinic. Patients must have been diagnosed with CFS/ME using NICE and RCPCH criteria whilst under the care of a consultant paediatrician to be eligible to be included in the study. Information gathered from their hospital notes included basic demographics, CFS/ME diagnosis information and any co-morbid conditions present.

Results 80% of patients were female which was as expected, with CFS/ME acknowledged to be a female dominated disease. The median age at diagnosis of CFS/ME was 14 years, and there were a total of 38 different symptoms recorded at diagnosis. Other than fatigue, the most common symptoms were headaches, abdominal pain, musculoskeletal pain and decreased concentration and short term memory.

56% of the cohort had at least 1 co-morbid condition. There were 51 separate co-morbid conditions, with the most common conditions being psychiatric, gastrointestinal, respiratory and musculoskeletal problems. 30% of the patients had at least 1 co-morbid condition that the RCPCH lists as a differential diagnosis of CFS/ME.

Conclusion This is the first study exploring co-morbid conditions in children and adolescents with CFS/ME. More than half of the cohort had at least one co-morbid condition. We wish to highlight to paediatricians that the presence of a co-morbid differential diagnosis does not appear to exclude CFS/ME.

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