Thursday, March 12, 2020

Quack Myth: Lyme Disease causes Autism

The view of the Lyme-Induced Autism Foundation (LIAF) is that it induces autism in children. They claimed that up to 90% of autistic children are infected with Borrelia. There is no peer viewed studies that support this claim. 

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF), having an ELISA or Western Blot blood test is not proof of an active infection. It only indicates the presence of antibodies that can be the result of past infection with Borrelia burdoferi, which is the causative agent of Lyme Disease. These antibodies may be present at low levels for months or years after the active infection has been cured with antibiotics. In some people, the ELISA or Western Blot positive tests is due to a nonspecific cross-reaction. 

According to the ALDF, there are serious issues with the laboratory tests LIAF performed to support their claim. 


  • The tests are of low quality. 
  • The data have never been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This alone lowers credibility.
  • There has been no independent confirmation to establish that the results are credible and able to be repeated. 
  • Non-standard criteria were used to interpret the Western Blots that were used to support the Autism and Lyme link. The criteria were different than the criteria set by the CDC. This results in a false positive. 
  • The results of two recent carefully controlled studies completely debunk the false claim by LIAF. Lyme Disease does not induce autism.
The prevalence of autism and Lyme disease are only in 9 states between 2004 and 2006.  They are AL, AR, CO, GA, MD, MO, NC, PA, SC, and WI. There is no evidence that autistic children are exposed to ticks at a greater rate than typical children. 
Lyme Disease is a tickborne disease. When in the woods, it is very important to check hair and all over the body. They can be removed with tweezers or hemostats. Make sure you grab the mouth otherwise the head can get stuck. 
Sources:
Ajamtan, M., Kosofsky, B.E., Wormser, G.P., Rajadhyalsha, A., and Alaedini, A.
JAMA 309: 1771-1772, 2013.
Burbelo, P.D., Swedo, S.E., Thurm, A., Bayal, A., Levin, A.E., Marques, A.,
and Iadorola, M.J.
Clinical Vaccine Immunology, May 2013, on-line ahead of print publication.

References:
 “Serologic markers of Lyme disease in children with autism”.
“Lack of serum antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi in children with autism”
 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Report of 2009(http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/states/ADDMCommunityReport2009.pdf).
 Reported Lyme Disease Cases by State, 1999-2008(http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/ld_rptdLymeCasesbyState.htm

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