FRIDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic fatigue syndrome,
often thought to be a condition that only afflicts adults, affects
adolescents as well but is often overlooked, according to a new
Dutch report in
Though the syndrome is much less common among teens than adults,
it often goes undiagnosed, especially by general practice doctors,
according to Dr. S.L. Nijhof, co-author of the report and a
physician at Wilhelmina Children's Hospital at the University
Medical Center in Utrecht.
Nijhof isn't referring to the tiredness typical of growing, busy
teens. "Fatigue is a common complaint among adolescents, with a
good prognosis," Nijhof said. "Chronic fatigue syndrome is much
less common, but with serious consequences."
Nijhof and fellow researchers collected data from 354 general
practitioners in the Netherlands who responded to a national survey
focusing on new patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome,
including the prevalence of the condition among their patients,
meaning the number of cases at any given time. They also gathered
information from a registry that recorded new diagnoses of teen
chronic fatigue patients at pediatric hospitals, including the
number of new cases a year, or incidence of the condition.
They found that about 1 in 900 teens developed chronic fatigue,
which was much lower than in the adult population. The prevalence
was 111 per 100,000 teens, and the annual incidence was 12 per
However, nearly 75 percent of the teens were not diagnosed by
their general practitioner but by a pediatrician or other
health-care provider, the study reported.
Of the participating general practitioners, just half said they
accepted chronic fatigue syndrome as a distinct diagnosis in their
teen patients. By contrast, 96 percent of the doctors from the
pediatric departments consulted said they did.
"We want to create awareness among [general practitioners] and support the idea that adolescents with severe fatigue should be referred to a pediatrician," Nijhof said. "Chronic fatigue is much less common [in teens], but with serious consequences."
The survey revealed that 90 percent of teens with the condition
had considerable school absences, defined as missing school at
least 15 percent of the time.
Dr. Nancy Klimas, director of the Chronic Fatigue Center at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who treats teens
with the condition, said that the study findings ring true.
Parents should be aware, first of all, that the condition can
strike teens, she said. "Very frequently it happens after a
mononucleosis infection," she said, adding that teens very often
return to school and to activities too soon, and that can be linked
to triggering chronic fatigue.
Among symptoms of the condition, Klimas said, are pain in
muscles and joints, a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. A teen
might wake up still exhausted after a night's sleep. The teen might
also have memory or concentration problems, as well as
And if a teen athlete with the condition returns to sports too
quickly, he or she might feel lousy the next day -- something that
Klimas called "exercise-induced relapse." That's also a signal to
see a pediatrician, she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about
chronic fatigue syndrome.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.