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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

3 per cent of 16-year-olds suffering from ME
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

3 per cent of 16-year-olds suffering from ME image

Something is happening to our teenagers. Around 3 per cent of 16-year-olds suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or ME that’s so severe they are regularly missing more than half a day of school every week.

The extent of the problem is far greater than specialists had believed. Twice as many girls as boys are suffering from CFS or ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), and they tend to start developing symptoms from the age of 13.

Nearly 3 per cent of 16-year-olds have the condition for more than three months, while 2 per cent are still suffering after six months.

It also seems to occur more in families that are experiencing greater adversity, such as divorce, poor housing or financial problems, so it’s not a middle-class affliction, a myth that gave birth to the ‘yuppie flu’ tag for the problem.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK discovered the extent of the problem when they reviewed the health of the 5,756 participants in the Children of the 90s survey.

The researchers fear that many of the children are suffering in silence and without help, often because doctors still don’t believe the problem is ever anything more than ‘something in the head’.


References

(Source: Pediatrics, February 2016; doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3434)

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