Jan. 5, 2009 -- Experiencing serious trauma during childhood may increase a
person's risk for developing
chronic fatigue syndrome later in life, a new study suggests.
In the study from the CDC and Atlanta's Emory University, patients with
fatigue syndrome (CFS) reported much higher levels of childhood trauma than
people without the disorder.
Severe childhood trauma -- including sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and
neglect -- was associated with a sixfold increase in CFS.
Chronic fatigue syndrome remains a poorly understood disorder, and the
suggestion that early-life stresses play an important role in the disease
Harvard Medical School professor and CFS expert Anthony L. Komaroff, FACP,
did not take part in the new study. But he tells WebMD that the findings make a
strong case for childhood trauma altering brain chemistry in a way that makes
some people more vulnerable to CFS.
"These researchers are definitely not saying that early-life trauma is the
cause of chronic fatigue syndrome," he says. "To say that something is a risk
factor is very different from saying that it is the cause."