MEA Summary Review: Rethinking Childhood Adversity in ME/CFS | 30 October 2017


We recently posted the conclusion of a new study from a research group at Newcastle University, led by Professor Julia Newton, which evaluated existing claims that childhood adversity was a high-risk factor in the development of ME/CFS.

Rather than attempt to place all of the review on this blog, we have made it available to view online or download as a pdf. file

This new study demonstrated that if you remove comorbid depression from the picture, the prevalence of childhood adversity in ME/CFS patients is significantly lower than previously found (17% compared with 66%). Meaning that childhood adversity is more likely to be associated with the development of depression and should not be considered a primary risk factor for ME/CFS.

“Having taken clinical histories from large numbers of people with ME/CFS over a period of 30+ years I have always been struck by the fact that the clear majority have had entirely normal and happy childhoods – as I did before developing ME/CFS as an adult.

“This type of very consistent ‘patient evidence’ clearly contradicts a small number of research studies which have concluded that various aspects of ‘childhood adversity’ are more common in people with ME/CFS and are therefore predisposing people to develop ME/CFS when the right trigger factor – normally a viral infection – appears in later life.

“So, it is very encouraging to find that a well-respected research group at the University of Newcastle, headed by Professor Julia Newton, have revisited this issue and completed a very thorough piece of research which has found that childhood adversity is far more likely to be associated with major depressive disorder than in the causation of ME/CFS.”

Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association.

Read the full review online or as a download

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