There are too many young people living with a chronic fatigue syndrome that is not diagnosed according to a new study that appeared in the magazine Child & Youth Care Forum.

Researchers at De Paul University and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago refer to the so-called chronic fatigue syndrome, more specifically known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME/CFS), a syndrome characterized by long-term fatigue that naturally precludes or makes difficult many daily activities.

Researcher and professor of psychology Leonard A. Jason used data from more than 10,000 children and adolescents from the Chicago area followed for seven years. The researchers found that only less than 5% of all young people in the study who tested positive for ME/CFS were diagnosed with the condition.

Among the children with the highest chance of living with this undiagnosed condition were African American and Latino children. The researchers also conducted telephone interviews and other analyses with more than 10,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 17 and found that of the 42 young people diagnosed with ME/CFS discovered among them only 4% (two of them) had been diagnosed with the disease.

The problem also lies in the fact that, as Jason himself explains, many doctors and professionals have not been prepared or are not able to cope with such a condition and in general the American health care system has never done a good job in this respect either. Even today, for example, there are still misunderstandings, among health professionals themselves, about the recognition of this condition whose causes are too often attributed to simple physical fatigue or listlessness.

According to researcher Ben Z. Katz, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, these results obtained with younger people could also be translated for older people and this shows that there is certainly a need for better ways to identify this condition in people and to develop effective therapies or interventions.