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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Children and Lyme

Lyme disease was first discovered because of children.  In the 1970's, two mothers in Lyme, Connecticut noticed that their children and many other children in the area where they lived were contracting juvenile arthritis.  They consulted a doctor who did research into the cause of this disease cluster.  It was discovered that the deer ticks in that area were carrying a type of bacteria that cause Lyme disease.  The disease gets its name from Lyme, Connecticut where these children lived and contracted the disease.  Doctors now know that this disease has been around a long time and that it is not "new" to humans. And researchers now know that deer are not the only ones who carry this disease. Birds transport these same ticks faster and farther than deer.  The fact that this disease can imitate other illnesses led to many generations of people being misdiagnosed.

Thank God that these persistent mothers advocated for their children and the children of others in their community.  This led to the discovery of Lyme. These women have unwittingly saved countless people by doing so.  They are heroines of this story.

I can't help wonder though, why is the medical community so slow to recognize and adequately treat Lyme in other parts of the United States?  How many other children out there are suffering needlessly?  How many are misdiagnosed with arthritis or some other ailment?  I worry that some of my students who have headaches, hyperactivity, memory problems, muscle pain, or attention deficit actually have Lyme disease?

Parents are not being warned about the dangers of ticks.  If my son were a small child today, knowing what I know about ticks, I would think twice about letting him climb trees, go camping, hiking, or any outdoor activity.  He would have to wear a thick coat of bug spray, long pants, and a broad-brimmed hiking hat.

Many parents struggle to pay for Lyme disease testing and treatment for their children. Some health insurance plans do not pay for Lyme disease testing or long-term treatment.   There are places where parents can receive some financial assistance if they suspect that their child  is suffering from Lyme disease and related co-infections.  I am posting a link to a site that lists places where one can get such help:

Another source for grants of financial assistance for children under 25 years old:

A foundation in my home state that wants to help pay any expenses related to a serious illness, even if you have health insurance:

Below is a link to a wonderful article written in 2012 about children and Lyme disease:

Teens with Lyme disease can go to a special blog just for them.  The teen years are already difficult enough, I can't imagine what it must be like to be going through both at the same time.  For help, advice, or just a chat with someone who understands, click the link below:

Symptoms in children can be very different from those in adults or teens.  This is especially true for those children that acquire the disease congenitally, or at birth.  Below is a link to a poster about the confusing symptoms of children with Lyme disease:


I love this infographic about children and Lyme:

School, sports, work, and play present different challenges for children with Lyme disease.  I've included a link to an article that addresses school children and Lyme disease:

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