Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue
A presentation made at
the American Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (AACFS)
Study by James G. Dobbins, Bonnie
Randall, Lea Steele, et al.
Reported by Vicki L. Carpman,
reprinted from the Winter 1997 issue of The CFIDS
James G. Dobbins,
MD and his colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reviewed
three studies done by the CDC to estimate rates of chronic fatigue, CFS-like
illness and CFS in children and adolescents, and to determine whether the
current CFS case definition was suitable for identifying younger people with the
The three studies used were: a
physician-referral based surveillance system in four U.S. cities; a community-
based study conducted in San Francisco; and a survey of school nurses in Wichita
and Reno. All of these studies included adolescents over age 12; only one
considered younger children. The findings of each study are in the table at
Dr. Dobbins concluded that CFS is less
common in adolescents than in adults, is extremely rare in young children and
that the current case definition is valid for identifying children and
adolescents with this disorder.
Dobbins’ conclusions have not been
universally accepted, however. Critics have suggested that the city of San
Francisco has fewer children than most U.S. cities and therefore is not a
representative study population, and that "fatigue" is not a term used to
describe the initial presentation of CFIDS in young children; "sleepiness,"
"tiredness" or "has less energy than his/her friends" are used more often.
The San Francisco telephone-based study’s
initial screening question asked about members of the household who were
"fatigued"; if another term was used to describe a child’s symptoms, he or she
would not be counted.
Rebecca Moore, chairman of CFIDS Youth
Alliance, is currently lobbying CDC to consider these factors when designing
future epidemiological studies which include children with fatiguing