Abstract: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Children and Adolescents

Journal: J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2002 Feb;43(2):169-76

Authors: Garralda ME, Rangel L.

Affiliation: Academic Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK. mailto:e.garralda@ic.ac.uk

NLM Citation: PMID: 11902596

BACKGROUND: Over the past two decades Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) of childhood has gained increasing prominence. A number of clinical reports and case-control studies have examined the nature of the disorder, its associations, response to treatment and outcome.

METHOD: A review of publications on childhood CFS was undertaken and reference to work on adult CFS made. Most studies on childhood CFS have been on markedly affected children attending specialist pediatric clinics and very little is known about the condition as it presents in the community or to general medical services.

RESULTS: The main symptom is fatigue in association with a variety of physical symptoms and with marked and prolonged functional impairment. CFS is commonly reported as being brought on by acute infections. Co-morbid psychiatric (usually mood) disorders are present in at least a half. Personality problems and health attitudes have been described as possible predisposing and maintaining factors. Clinical reports indicate that family work focused on engagement and on a rehabilitation programme (including graded increasing activity and treatment of psychiatric

co-morbidity) can help even the more severely impaired children. Recovery may be expected in over two-thirds.

CONCLUSIONS: CFS presents as a distinct, markedly impairing disorder of childhood. In its severe form, it is often associated with mood disorders. Further research into milder forms and into the efficacy of different treatment interventions is specially needed.

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