Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a complex condition. Causal factors are not established, although underlying psychological or immunological susceptibility has been proposed. We studied primary care diagnoses for children with CFS/ME, with children with another hospital diagnosis (type 1 diabetes mellitus [T1DM]) and the general child population as comparison groups.
All Norwegian children born 1992-2012 constituted the study sample.
Children with CFS/ME (n = 1670) or T1DM (n = 4937) were identified in the Norwegian Patient Register (NPR) (2008-2014). Children without either diagnosis constituted the general child population comparison group (n = 1337508). We obtained information on primary care diagnoses from the Norwegian Directorate of Health. For each primary care diagnosis, the proportion and 99% confidence interval (CI) within the three groups was calculated, adjusted for sex and age by direct standardization.
Children with CFS/ME were more often registered with a primary care diagnosis of weakness/general tiredness (89.9% [99% CI 88.0 to 91.8%]) than children in either comparison group (T1DM: 14.5% [99% CI: 13.1 to 16.0%], general child population: 11.1% [99% CI: 11.0 to 11.2%]).
Also, depressive disorder and anxiety disorder were more common in the CFS/ME group, as were migraine, muscle pain, and infections. In the 2 year period prior to the diagnoses, infectious mononucleosis was registered for 11.1% (99% CI 9.1 to 13.1%) of children with CFS/ME and for 0.5% (99% CI (0.2 to 0.8%) of children with T1DM. Of children with CFS/ME, 74.6% (1292/1670) were registered with a prior primary care diagnosis of weakness / general tiredness. The time span from the first primary care diagnosis of weakness/general tiredness to the specialist health care diagnosis of CFS/ME was 1 year or longer for 47.8%.
This large nationwide registry linkage study confirms that the clinical picture in CFS/ME is complex. Children with CFS/ME were frequently diagnosed with infections, supporting the hypothesis that infections may be involved in the causal pathway. The long time span often observed from the first diagnosis of weakness/general tiredness to the diagnosis of CFS/ME might indicate that the treatment of these patients is sometimes not optimal.
Comorbidities treated in primary care in children with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: A nationwide registry linkage study from Norway by Inger J. Bakken, Kari Tveito, Kari M. Aaberg, Sara Ghaderi, Nina Gunnes, Lill Trogstad, Per Magnus, Camilla Stoltenberg, Siri E. Haberg in BMC Family Practice Vol. 17, no.1, p 128 [published September 2, 2016]