Some startling facts about Lyme disease and young people

At a recent conference on Integrative Medicine for the Treatment of Tick-borne Diseases in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Rosalie Greenberg, a child and adolescent Psychiatrist from New Jersey, spoke about some of her startling findings which she had discovered when she investigated the link between Tick Borne Illness (TBI) and psychiatric illness in children and adolescents.

Dr. Greenberg said we’re all aware that many chronic infections such as Tick Borne Illnesses can precipitate psychiatric symptoms but she asked – is the real question we have to ask ourselves – how often are psychiatric symptoms or syndromes the direct result of infections?

To back up her findings, Dr. Greenberg quoted some startling facts about Lyme disease and young people which were provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

These findings were:

  • Lyme disease is most common among boys 5 to 19 years old
  • Kids have 3x the rate of all other age groups
  • 25% of Lyme cases are in children

Dr. Greenberg said Lyme disease can be very hard to recognize in children because kids often get colds and fever. Children often complain of all manner of aches and pains but these can often be mistaken as ‘growing pains.’ They can also complain of problems with concentration and usually this is attributed to other factors.

She explained how behavioral, emotional, and subtle cognitive changes can occur in children but they’re often not noticed initially, adding neuropsychiatric symptoms are often misdiagnosed and often, underdiagnosed.

Dr Greenberg said children with chronic Lyme disease have higher rates of anxiety and behavioral disorders than children without Lyme disease. She showed this list of potential psychiatric symptoms of Lyme and TBI.

Potential Psychiatric Symptoms of Lyme and TBI (Tick Borne Illness)

  • Psychosis
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Anxiety/Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Violent behaviour/Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cognitive problems

While she was looking into the effects of Lyme disease in young people, Dr. Greenberg decided to have a consecutive group of 27 bipolar youth in her practice tested for tick-borne infections.

The results were surprising:

  • 89% or 24/27 were positive on serologic testing.
  • 92% or 22/24 were + serology complied with recommendation clinical assessment by a specialist in TBI.
  • Of these 92% or 20/22 were clinically diagnosed with 1 or more TBI.
  • In Summary, 74% or 20/27 patients were diagnosed with a TBI. Also 23.5% were positive for PANDA.

Conclusions

Dr. Greenberg said because the tests of her patients showed such high percentages of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, this means we need to do much more research in this area. She finished her presentation by adding these conclusions:

  • Initial presentation of TBI in youth may be symptoms of a variety of childhood mental disorders.
  • Although the temporal relationship between TBI and PBD (Paediatric Bipolar Disorder) cannot be determined, the high rate of TBI in the once case series presented is provocative.
  • Much more research is need to clarify the interaction of TBI and psychiatric illness – especially in children and adolescents.

Contact details

For anyone struggling with a Lyme-like illness, a hospital that treats the body as a whole can offer a great deal of help. This article was written by Pamela Connellan, Director of Scheduling services for Lyme Support (https://www.lymesupport.com), which refers people who are suffering with Lyme disease to hospitals in Germany and Mexico as well as providing personalized health coaching using a functional medicine approach.

If you’d like more information about these specialized hospitals, we can help schedule you at a hospital and provide education on treatments. We strive to advocate for tick-borne illness by writing articles and speaking at conferences and support groups.

You can reach us at Lyme Support via email at pamela@lymesupport.com or by telephone at +1415.228.0296.

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