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Epidemiology of chronic fatigue syndrome and self reported myalgic encephalomyelitis in 5-15 year olds: cross sectional study

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 18 September 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:654
  1. T Chalder, reader1 (,
  2. R Goodman, professor2,
  3. S Wessely, professor1,
  4. M Hotopf, reader in psychological medicine1,
  5. H Meltzer, principal survey officer3
  1. Department of Psychological Medicine, Guy's, King's, and St Thomas's School of Medicine, London SE5 8AZ
  2. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF
  3. Office for National Statistics, London SW1V 2QQ
  1. Correspondence to:T Chalder
  • Accepted 15 July 2003


Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterised by severe physical and mental fatigue associated with disability, which by definition markedly affects people's lives. At one end of the spectrum, newspaper headlines imply that chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis in children is of epidemic proportions, whereas at the other end the existence of the disorder is refuted. Attempts have been made to assess the size of the problem in the community, general practice, schools, and secondary care.w1-w5 Methodological problems, however, such as selection biases and poor response rates make it difficult to draw conclusions from these studies. We are unaware of any population studies in the United Kingdom that examine the prevalence of and factors associated with chronic fatigue syndrome in children. We determined the prevalence of chronic fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and reported myalgic encephalomyelitis in 5-15 year olds and examined demographic and …

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