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A controlled comparison of multiple chemical sensitivities & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 70 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
www.ProHealth.com • January 25, 1996


The present study had two objectives: 1) to determine the
characteristics that differentiated subjects with multiple
chemical sensitivities (MCS), chemical sensitivities (CS), and
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); and 2) to evaluate the
psychiatric and neuropsychological complaints of these groups
relative to normal controls. A cross-sectional comparison was
made of the following groups matched for age, sex, and
education: 1) patients whose sensitivities to multiple low
level chemical exposures began with a defined exposure (MCS; N
= 23); 2) patients with sensitivities to multiple chemicals
without a clear date of onset (CS; N = 13); 3) patients
meeting CDC criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS; N =
18); and 4) normal controls (N = 18). Subjects with
sensitivities to chemicals (MCS and CS) reported significantly
more lifestyle changes due to chemical sensitivities and
significantly more chemical substances that made them ill
compared with chronic fatigue and normal controls. MCS, CS,
and CFS patients had significantly higher rates of current
psychiatric disorders than normal controls and reported
significantly more physical symptoms with no medical
explanation. Seventy-four percent of MCS and 61% of CFS did
not qualify for any current Axis I psychiatric diagnosis.
Chemically sensitive subjects without a defined date of onset
(CS) had the highest rate of Axis I psychiatric disorders
(69%). On the MMPI-2, 44% of MCS, 42% of CS, 53% of CFS, and
none of the controls achieved clinically significant
elevations on scales associated with somatoform disorders.
With the exception of one complex test of visual memory, no
significant differences were noted among the groups on tests
of neuropsychological function. Standardized measures of
psychiatric and neuropsychological function did not
differentiate subjects with sensitivities to chemicals from
those with chronic fatigue. Subjects with sensitivities to
chemicals and no clear date of onset had the highest rate of
psychiatric morbidity. Standardized neuropsychological tests
did not substantiate the cognitive impairment reported
symptomatically. Cognitive deficits may become apparent under
controlled exposure conditions.

Fiedler N, Kipen HM, DeLuca J, Kelly-McNeil K, Natelson B




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