Does Lyme disease induce autism in children ?

The view that Lyme disease induces autism in children has been advanced by the Lyme-Induced Autism Foundation (LIAF) which claims that up to 90% of autistic children are infected with Borrelia (1). There are no published data to substantiate such a claim. Having a positive ELISA or Western Blot test is not proof of active infection; it might indicate the presence of antibodies that are the result of past infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Such antibodies may persist at low levels, months to years after the active infection has been cured by appropriate antibiotic therapy. In some persons, a positive ELISA or Western blot is due to a non-specific cross-reaction (i.e., a false positive test). There are serious problems with the quality of the laboratory tests used to support the claim that a large percentage of autistic children are seropositive for Lyme disease. First, the actual data upon which the claim is based have never been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal; this casts doubts on their accuracy. Second, there has been no independent confirmation to establish that the results are valid and reproducible. Third, in many cases, it appears that non-standard criteria were used to interpret the Western blots that were used to support an association between Lyme disease and autism. Such criteria are at variance with those recommended by the CDC, thereby resulting in a significant number of false positive tests. Consequently, the unpublished results of the serological tests reported by the LIAF must be viewed with grave skepticism. The results of two recent carefully conducted controlled studies completely refute the...

Does Lyme disease induce autism in children?

The view that Lyme disease induces autism in children has been advanced by the Lyme-Induced Autism Foundation (LIAF) which claims that up to 90% of autistic children are infected with Borrelia (1). There are no published data to substantiate such a claim. Having a positive ELISA or Western Blot test is not proof of active infection; it might indicate the presence of antibodies that are the result of past infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Such antibodies may persist at low levels, months to years after the active infection has been cured by appropriate antibiotic therapy. In some persons, a positive ELISA or Western blot is due to a non-specific cross-reaction (i.e., a false positive test). There are serious problems with the quality of the laboratory tests used to support the claim that a large percentage of autistic children are seropositive for Lyme disease. First, the actual data upon which the claim is based have never been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal; this casts doubts on their accuracy. Second, there has been no independent confirmation to establish that the results are valid and reproducible. Third, in many cases, it appears that non-standard criteria were used to interpret the Western blots that were used to support an association between Lyme disease and autism. Such criteria are at variance with those recommended by the CDC, thereby resulting in a significant number of false positive tests. Consequently, the unpublished results of the serological tests reported by the LIAF must be viewed with grave skepticism. The results of two recent carefully conducted controlled studies completely refute the...

Myths About Lyme Disease

Misinformation on Lyme Disease. Two-tier testing for Lyme disease is no better than a coin toss. Lyme Disease is not sexually transmitted. Lyme disease-autism correlation debunked. Chronic co-infections are not invariably associated with Lyme disease. Misconceptions about Lyme Disease. Chronic Lyme Disease: Misconceptions and Challenges for Patient Management. Borrelia burgdorferi Morphologic Variants, Sometimes Called Cyst Forms, Do not Support a Role in Chronic Lyme Disease. Is there an association between Lyme disease and certain neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, amylotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s...

Commentaries and Reviews on Lyme Disease

“Lyme Disease: The Great Controversy” “Concerns regarding a new culture method for Borrelia burgdorferi not approved for the diagnosis of Lyme disease” “Autism-Lyme Correlation Debunked” “Nervous System Lyme Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment” “An Open Letter to the Editors of the Poughkeepsie Journal: In Defense of the Scientific Enterprise” “Does Everybody Have Chronic Lyme Disease? Does Anyone?” “A critical assessment of the new culture test for the diagnosis of Lyme disease” “FDA takes steps to help ensure the reliability of new diagnostic tests?” “Several U.S. Senators request expedited release of draft guidelines by the FDA on regulation of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs)” “Political Science: Chronic Lyme Disease” “Chronic Coinfections in Patients with Chronic Lyme Disease: a Systematic Review” “Unorthodox Alternative Therapies Marketed to Treat Lyme Disease” “Lyme Disease: A Nonspecific...

Lyme Disease

What is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease (LD) is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacterium called a spirochete (pronounced spy-ro-keet) that is carried by deer ticks(Click here for pictures of deer ticks). An infected tick can transmit the spirochete to the humans and animals it bites. Untreated, the bacterium travels through the bloodstream, establishes itself in various body tissues, and can cause a number of symptoms, some of which are severe. Often, an erythema migrans (EM) rash appears within 7-14 days at the site of a tick bite (click to see picture of a typical EM rash). LD manifests itself as a multisystem inflammatory disease that affects the skin in its early, localized stage, and spreads to the joints, nervous system and, to a lesser extent, other organ systems in its later, disseminated stages. If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, LD is almost always readily cured. Generally, LD in its later stages can also be treated effectively, but because the rate of disease progression and individual response to treatment varies from one patient to the next, some patients may have symptoms that linger for months or even years following treatment. In rare instances, LD causes permanent damage. Although LD is now the most common arthropod-borne illness in the U.S. (more than 150,000 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] since 1982), its diagnosis and treatment can be challenging for clinicians due to its diverse manifestations and the limitations of currently available serological (blood) tests. The prevalence of LD in the northeast and upper mid-west is due to the presence...