Far greater numbers of children are missing out on schooling because they are suffering from undiagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome according to research published in the medical journal BMJ Open.
The research estimates that one in 100 secondary school children suffer from undiagnosed myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) which results in significantly increased educational absenteeism.
The study estimates that 33,000 secondary age children may be suffering from ME.
Sir Peter Spencer KCB - Chief Executive of Action for M.E - would welcome the opportunity to comment on the BMJ Open research.
He says: “The key findings of the report are that 1% school children are missing 1 day per week due to CFS/ME.”
“On average most have suffered from the illness for more than 18 months – so major impact on schooling and parents are understandable pretty desperate.”
“Schools and school clinics need to work closer with specialist clinicians to identify and refer children – part of the problem is that GPs may have problems in diagnosing the condition.”
Action we should take:
“This is a wake-up call for GPs, school teachers and school clinics to recognise this illness and refer children promptly to local specialist clinics.”
“Delays of over 18 months before diagnosis are wholly unacceptable and the amount of schooling missed is damaging to a child’s development and long term future.”
“Very few specialist M.E./CFS services are provided for children in the UK – the Bristol/Bath area is better serviced than most other parts of the country but the research found that awareness was still poor in these areas.”
“It is most important to understand that there is a wide spectrum of impairment. The children in this study were relatively mildly or moderately affected. There are a large number of children who are much more severely affected who can’t get to school at all.”
“No other illness has such a devastating impact on so many people but has so little money spent on scientific research or the provision of specialist healthcare.”