The prevalence of pediatric Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a community‑based sample, by Leonard A Jason, Ben Z Katz, Madison Sunnquist, Chelsea Torres, Joseph Cotler & Shaun Bhatia in Child & Youth Care Forum, 23 January 2020 [doi.org/10.1007/s10566-019-09543-3]
Most pediatric prevalence studies of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have been based upon data from tertiary care centers, a process known for systematic biases such as excluding youth of lower socioeconomic status and those less likely to have access to health care. In addition, most pediatric ME/CFS epidemiologic studies have not included a thorough medical and psychiatric examination. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of pediatric ME/CFS from an ethnically and sociodemographically diverse community-based random sample.
A sample of 10,119 youth aged 5–17 from 5622 households in the Chicagoland area were screened. Following evaluations, a team of physicians made final diagnoses. Youth were given a diagnosis of ME/CFS if they met criteria for three selected case definitions. A probabilistic, multi-stage formula was used for final prevalence calculations.
The prevalence of pediatric ME/CFS was 0.75%, with a higher percentage being African American and Latino than Caucasian. Of the youth diagnosed with ME/CFS, less than 5% had been previously diagnosed with the illness.
Many youth with the illness have not been previously diagnosed with ME/CFS. These findings point to the need for better ways to identify and diagnose youth with this illness.