At times, patients have gone to physicians with symptoms similar to Tourette syndrome, when the underlying cause of the symptoms was Lyme disease. It has also been linked to some cases of autism (see below). Lyme disease is often overlooked by physicians, but can be tested for.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Most people bitten by an infected tick develop a characteristic skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, and vary in size, shape, and color, but it will often have a "bull's eye" appearance (a red ring with a clear center). However, there are those who will not develop the rash, which makes Lyme disease hard to diagnose because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases.
Inflammatory conditions have been known to trigger or aggravate tic symptoms. A new press release brought the subject of Lyme disease to the attention of the autism community:
November 7, 2007 - An article in Medical Hypotheses, entitled "The association between tick-borne infections, Lyme Borreliosis and autism spectrum disorders," was released this week. Robert Bransfield, M.D., the main author collaborated with top doctors in both fields on this paper such as Jeff Wulfman, M.D., William T. Harvey, M.D. and Anju Usman, M.D.
The summary of the article states that "Chronic infectious diseases, including tick-borne infections such as Borrelia burgdorferi may have direct effects, promote other infections and create a weakened, sensitized and immunologically vulnerable state during fetal development and infancy leading to increased vulnerability for developing autism spectrum disorders."
The authors examine clinical observations, case reports, laboratory testing of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder for tick-borne diseases, brain imaging results, epidemiological findings, infections and autism, tick-borne/Borreliosis infections and psychiatric illness and many other factors in this collaboration of research findings.
Numbers indicate that 20-30% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may be infected with Lyme Borreliosis and pathogenic Mycoplasma may be a contributor in 58% of cases. With these staggering numbers, families and physicians need education on the proper testing and treatment methods currently available. With these 20-30% numbers representing around 140,000 cases of autism in the United States alone, the human impact of this disease is staggering. Bransfield et al state that "If just 20% of the 560,000 recognized cases of ASD in the US can be prevented or more effectively treated, this could result in a savings of $358 billion in addition to the incalculable human impact of this disease."
Parents needing more information on testing and treatment can turn to the LIA Foundation for support. They are a non-profit organization which focuses on research, awareness and education on the multiple infections, including Borrelia/Lyme Disease, and how that impacts children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
LIA Foundation: The foundation was started in September 2006 by parents of children with autism and Lyme disease. Kathy Blanco of Beaverton, OR and Tami Duncan of Corona, CA are the founders. The foundation's goals are to provide awareness, education and research on the multiple-infections such as Borrelia and its connection to autism.
Click here for research articles on Lyme Disease.