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Childhood Trauma Tied to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Date:1/6/2009

Finding means condition could be biologically driven, researchers say

TUESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are traumatized by sexual, physical or psychological abuse are more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome as adults, new research suggests.

The study also states that the increased risk for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) might be based in biology. The reason: There appears to be a connection between the nervous system and endocrine system abnormalities, called neuroendocrine dysfunction, in people with CFS who suffered childhood trauma, the researchers said.

"About 60 percent of the people who have CFS have been badly abused as children," said lead researcher Dr. William C. Reeves, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Chronic Viral Diseases Branch. "They also have a diminished salivary cortisol response to stress."

The same researchers found similar results in an earlier study of patients in Kansas, Reeves noted. "CFS does involve a diminished response to stress," he said.

An estimated 4 million people in the United States are thought to struggle with CFS, costing the nation some $9 billion annually, and each patient's family $20,000 a year in lost revenue, Reeves said.

The condition, which is more common in women 40 to 59 years old, is marked by a cluster of debilitating symptoms, including unexplained fatigue, problems sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, and pain.

The illness was first recognized in the late 1980s and initially dubbed the "yuppie flu," causing it to suffer from a credibility problem.

"CFS is quite common," Reeves said. "It is a real illness. If you have the symptoms of CFS, see a provider. It's not all in your head -- it's not a crock."

For the study, published in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, Reeves's team collected data on 113 people with CFS and 124 peo
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