AN OXFORD mother has backed a charity’s calls for more support for children in the county suffering from the chronic fatigue condition ME.

Iona Fabian from Aston has said doctors, schools and social services must be more informed over the condition which has affected her 20-year-old daughter, Zoe, for the last eight years.

In a recent report, Oxfordshire ME Group for Action (OMEGA) found that medical professionals were often poorly trained in recognising the condition and as a result were unable to offer appropriate support and treatment.

ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a disorder where extreme fatigue or tiredness doesn’t go away with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition.

It is thought to affect an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, and around 17 million people worldwide, according to the charity Action for ME.

Ms Fabian said watching her daughter struggle with the condition without a diagnosis for two years was a ‘nightmare’ as the condition limited Zoe’s attendance at school with teachers putting pressure on the family to get her back to class.

Accessing financial support from authorities also proved difficult in the absence of any diagnosis.

Currently there is no specific test or treatment for ME, so diagnosis is based on symptoms and by ruling out other conditions.

Doctors at the John Radcliffe finally determined Zoe was suffering from ME at 14 years old, which Ms Fabian said was a huge weight lifted.

She said: “The doctor couldn’t give me any answers about how to make her better but at least he was able to tell us what it was.

“Having that diagnosis at least means you can access benefits and the school can put things in place but for a lot of families you don’t get a diagnosis for years.”

However treatment is limited to symptom management including graded exercise therapy and pain killers.

And while Zoe, has been able to adapt her diet and learn to live within her limits to help manage the condition, Ms Fabian has said more must be done to offer support.

She said: “If teachers pick up on absences or attendance issues then it is leading to a lot of problems so parents feel attacked rather than supported, not just ME but all medically unexplained condition’s”

Fifty per cent of children with ME become bed-bound at some point, and 68 per cent too ill to attend school.

OMEGA found that some patients had received good support from GPs, schools, patient support groups and the community Oxfordshire CFS/ME Service, however, the charity has called for better training for GPs and for educators and the extension of the Oxfordshire CFS/ME Service to help young people under 14 years of age.

Chair of OMEGA Priscilla Kew said: “The experiences of children with ME and their families in Oxfordshire largely mirror those of families elsewhere in the country.

“We therefore hope that the providers of services for these children will take our findings on board when considering services.”