It has been discovered that children from lower income families are more likely to suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome following research by the University of Bristol. Formerly known as the “yuppie flu”, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), causes persistent tiredness that cannot be alleviated by rest or sleep. It has been found that it is more likely to affect girls than boys with around 2% of 16 year olds suffering from the disorder.
The study observed more than 5700 parents and their children and found that one in 50 16 year olds suffer from the condition for more than 6 months and nearly one in 33 for more than 3 months. Despite this, only one in one thousand are diagnosed with the condition.
“only the most severe cases are getting help”
Although formerly thought of as a “middle class” illness, the studies have shown that children from poorer families with financial concerns, poor housing and lack of support were more likely to suffer from chronic fatigue.
Consultant paediatrician and senior author of the report, Dr Esther Crawley, said that although treatment for the illness is effective, very few have access to treatment in the UK. She said: “Children attending my specialist service only attend two days a week of school on average. This means that only the most severe cases are getting help”.
Chief executive of Action for ME, Sonia Chowdhury, has stated that the study has highlighted the need for more effective treatments. Currently successful results are being recorded by treating patients with cognitive behavioural therapy, but it is felt that diagnosis needs to be improved and treatment given to more children.
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