Landmark chronic fatigue trial could treat two-thirds
A therapy that successfully treats two-thirds of children with chronic fatigue syndrome is being tried for NHS use. The disease affects one in 50 children, leading to mental health problems and missing school. “If anyone has done a cross-country [run] or a marathon – that is how it feels all the time,” said Jessica, 14. The trial, on 734 children, will use intensive online therapy sessions to adjust sleeping habits and activity levels. It also uses a form of behavioural therapy to help children with the disease adapt the way they live. Studies suggest one in 100 children misses at least a day of class a week because of the disease.
When Jessica – not her real name – was 10, she missed the equivalent of a whole term in one school year. She was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) – at the age of 11. “I can’t do the things my friends can do,” she told the BBC News website. “I’ve missed a lot of birthdays. “When they have sleepovers, I have to sacrifice that. “And I can only do mornings at school, so I miss a lot of lessons.” Prof Esther Crawley, a children’s doctor and from the University of Bristol, said: “This illness is devastating. About 50% of teenagers are tired, but these children are different – they stop doing the stuff they want to do.
“The first thing they drop is socialising and fun things, then they drop school, so this is very different to teenagers just being tired.”