A recent study by Dr. Ben Z. Katz of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago has discovered that teenagers who develop infectious mononucleosis may be at risk for ME/CFS. According to Dr. Katz, previous studies have shown that one in ten adults with acute mono will develop ME/CFS. Mono and the link to ME/CFS in teens has not been studied as much, however.
In this study, the researchers monitored 301 adolescents with mono. Six months after their diagnosis, 24% (70 patients) had not made a full recovery & 13% (39 patients) were diagnosed with ME/CFS.
At the 12-month follow up visit, 7% had ME/CFS and at the 24-month follow up, ME/CFS persisted in 4% of the adolescents. That is approximately 20 times higher than in the general teenage population. All of the 13 patients who still had ME/CFS at the 24-month follow up were female and an average worsening of fatigue was reported at 12 months.
The use of steroids for treating the mono at the time of diagnosis did not affect the risk of patients developing ME/CFS. Dr. Katz says he and his colleagues are now trying to figure out what differentiates adolescents who recover from mono from those who don’t.