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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Study Debunks Lyme Disease-Autism Link

Children with autism no likelier than others to have signs of tick-borne infection
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When the second test, called the Western blot, was done, none of the children tested positive for Lyme disease.

"We did the testing by the CDC-recommended two-tier testing and didn't find any of the children to be positive. Our sample size is large enough that these findings can rule out a high prevalence of Lyme disease in children with autism spectrum disorders," Alaedini said.

An expert who was not involved with the new study discussed the findings.

"This study points out the problems with Lyme serology. Sometimes a single blood test doesn't do it. And, in any study of Lyme disease, you have to look critically at how they tested," explained Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, in New York City.

"When these researchers did the CDC recommended testing, they couldn't find the prevalence of Lyme that others found," he noted.

Lyme disease primarily occurs in the northeastern part of the country, though it can happen anywhere. In 2011, the CDC estimates that 96 percent of Lyme disease occurred in 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. In these areas, Lyme disease is considered endemic, which means it's regularly found there.

Bromberg said it's important to take precautions when outdoors to protect against Lyme, but not for fear of autism. "Avoiding Lyme has nothing to do with autism, it's to avoid Lyme. Wear protective clothing and do tick checks when you come indoors," Bromberg said.

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