Not only does ME/CFS appear in children, the outbreak in Lyndonville, New York in the 1980s included a large percentage of pediatric cases.
In 2006, a pediatric case definition was published. The illness presents slightly differently in children and adolescents. Additionally, assessing the level of self-reporting physical limitations is not as effective in diagnosing pediatric cases because they have no reference point. Thus, the 2011 International Consensus Criteria includes special features for pediatric cases, in addition to the criteria for diagnosing adults.
Special Features of Pediatric Cases:
A child or adolescent does not have to have every one of the symptoms to be diagnosed.
Someone who meets the criteria, would be diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, as this paper suggests. Someone with post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion but does not have the number of the other symptoms required, would have atypical myalgic encephalomyelities.
Quotes from the 2006 Pediatric Definition document:
“The lack of application of a consistent pediatric definition of ME/CFS and the lack of a reliable instrument to assess it (Jordan, Kilak, and Jason, 1997) might lead to studies which inaccurately label children with a wide variety of symptoms as having ME/CFS as well as possibly missing children who do have it.” – page 2
“In these children, no diagnosis may be made, often leading to the inappropriate assumption of malingering or diagnosis of psychiatric disease. These incorrect diagnosis may be more damaging than the diagnostic label of ME/CFS.” – page 3
“Further, development of a pediatric definition of ME/CFS will allow for the application of consistent and objective criteria, and may serve to stimulate research which will then not only further test the validity of this case definition but also elucidate pathophysiology and improve treatment approaches. ” – page 4