FS/ME an under-recognized cause of school absence

A study of three secondary school populations led by Crawley et al. in Bristol (U.K.) sought to identify the cause of absences in students who missed more than 20 percent of school in a six-week term. Based on previous diagnoses (5 children) and diagnoses made following referral to specialist clinics, a total of 28 children met NICE guidelines for CFS/ME. Based on this sample, they estimate 1 in 100 (1 percent) school children may fit these CFS/ME criteria, which require 3 months of persistent fatigue plus other symptoms (pain, disturbed sleep, cognitive problems, etc.). In general, the children diagnosed by the specialty clinic had fewer symptoms and less severe symptoms compared to the children with prior diagnosis of CFS/ME. The 23 newly diagnosed students were offered treatment follow-up appointments to address sleep problems and for cognitive behavioral therapy or graded exercise. Nineteen did so; 63.2 percent of them improved within the six-month follow-up period. The authors conclude, “Together with referral to specialist services, school-based clinics have the potential to improve overall school attendance.” Several U.K. and U.S. news outlets covered the study results, including HealthDay, BBC News and the Guardian. (BMJ Open, Dec. 12, 2011)

Tags: , December 12, 2011