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Can you inherit chronic fatigue syndrome from your parents?

ANSWER

ME/CFS can run in families. It’s possible some people inherit a risk for it from one of their parents, such as inheriting a defect in how a particular gene is built.

Probably more important than how genes are built is whether genes are turned on or off properly—differences in gene activity. In people with ME/CFS, within white blood cells and other parts of the body, there are differences in gene activity. For example, several studies have found that genes important in activating the immune system are more likely to be turned on in people with ME/CFS.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

Kids Health: “Chronic fatigue syndrome.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Rimes, K. , March 2007. Pediatrics

Heim, C. , November 2006. JAMA Psychiatry

Genetics Home Reference: “Corticosteroid-binding globulin deficiency.”

Schlauch, K. , published online February 9, 2016. Translational Psychiatry

Kerr, J. , December 2008. Current Rheumatology Reports

Aaron, L. , January 2001. Journal of General Internal Medicine

Reviewed by Anthony L Komaroff on November 29, 2018

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

Kids Health: “Chronic fatigue syndrome.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Rimes, K. , March 2007. Pediatrics

Heim, C. , November 2006. JAMA Psychiatry

Genetics Home Reference: “Corticosteroid-binding globulin deficiency.”

Schlauch, K. , published online February 9, 2016. Translational Psychiatry

Kerr, J. , December 2008. Current Rheumatology Reports

Aaron, L. , January 2001. Journal of General Internal Medicine

Reviewed by Anthony L Komaroff on November 29, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

What else is chronic fatigue syndrome known as and is it curable?

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