Abstract: Prevalence of chronic disabling fatigue in children and adolescents

Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;184:477-81. Farmer A, Fowler T, Scourfield J, Thapar A. MRC Social, Genetic, Developmental Psychiatric Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London. Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff.

BACKGROUND: The epidemiology of chronic fatiguing illnesses in young people is poorly understood. Aims: To estimate the lifetime prevalence of different definitions of chronic fatigue in 8- to 17-year-olds.

METHOD: Participants came from two population-based twin series. Parents completed self-report questionnaires that enquired whether either child had ever experienced more than a few days of disabling fatigue. Telephone interviews were undertaken for individuals who had experienced such an episode.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were returned by 1468 families (65% response rate) and telephone interviews were undertaken regarding 99 of the 129 subjects (77%) who had experienced fatigue. The lifetime prevalence estimates ranged from 2.34% (95% CI 1.75-2.94) for disabling fatigue lasting 3 months to 1.29% (95% CI 0.87-1.71) for a disorder resembling adult operationally defined chronic fatigue syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: From the age of 11 years, young people have similar rates and types of chronic fatiguing illnesses to adults.

PMID: 15172940 [PubMed – in process]

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