How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Pregnancy
We dont know for sure about the effects of Lyme disease on pregnancy. Untreated Lyme may cause complications during pregnancy, including:
- An infection in the placenta. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
- Stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Congenital heart defects. These are heart conditions that are present at birth. They can affect the hearts shape or how it works, or both.
- Urinary tract defects. The urinary tract is the system of organs that helps your body get rid of waste and extra fluids. Urinary tract defects can cause pain, urinary tract infections, kidney damage and kidney failure.
- Problems with your babys blood, like hyperbilirubinemia. This is when your babys blood has too much bilirubin in it. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that forms as red blood cells break down. Too much bilirubin can cause your baby to have jaundice. This is when your babys skin and the white parts of his eyes look yellow because his liver isnt fully developed or isnt working.
Untreated Lyme disease also may cause your baby to have a rash after hes born.
Lyme Disease In Children
Children are at higher risk of acquiring tick-borne diseases based on their outdoor activities. According to the CDC, the highest infection rates for Lyme disease occur in children, ages 5 to 9. Of the over 300,000 cases of Lyme disease reported in people in the US each year, one in four is a child.
What Can I Expect Long Term If My Child Has Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, most children will make a full recovery. Some children with Lyme disease go on to experience what’s called a post-infectious syndrome with symptoms that may include feeling fatigue, joint aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and problems concentrating. Since the infection itself is gone by this time, doctors generally don’t prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but it’s not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.
Blacklegged, or deer, ticks are very small, so it helps to know what to look for when doing a tick check. Adults are about the size of sesame seeds and in the nymph or larva stage, they can be as tiny as a poppy seeds.
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Symptoms To Help You Identify Lyme Disease And When To Talk To Your Doctor
If you like to spend time outdoors in the summer, youre probably aware of the importance of checking yourself for ticks afterward. And, if you live in certain parts of the country, Lyme disease is very likely on your radar.
But knowing you could get Lyme disease from a tick bite and actually being aware of which symptoms to look out for are two different things. So, what are the Lyme disease symptoms to look for? Heres what you need to know.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
It can be hard for doctors to diagnose Lyme disease because:
- The tick bites and rash might not be noticed.
- Many early symptoms seem like the flu or other illnesses.
- Blood tests can only help diagnose Lyme disease later in the illness, several weeks after it started.
Doctors can diagnose early Lyme disease if they see a tick bite or the telltale rash, especially if the person lives in an area where Lyme disease is common.
To diagnose late Lyme disease, doctors:
- Ask about symptoms.
- Do blood tests that look for signs of Lyme disease.
Depending on the symptoms, doctors might order other tests, such as a spinal tap, which looks at the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. It can be put on clothing or sparingly on the skin. Dont apply it to the face or hands of children.
- Treat clothing, tents, or other gear with repellents containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see and remove ticks from your clothes.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots for added protection.
After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks that have not attached to you.
- Check your entire body for ticks. Use a mirror for places you cant see. Check your children and your pets. Common tick locations include the back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, scalp, and the back of the neck.
- Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.
Tumble dry clothes or blankets on high heat in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should kill any ticks. If clothes are dirty, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for 60 minutes.
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Ticks: What To Look For
Ticks are part of the arachnid family, related to spiders. Like spiders, theyre eight-legged, and they are parasites, surviving by sucking blood from a host animal or person. Ticks can be difficult to spot. They can be as small as a poppy seed, but when theyre fully fed, they can grow to the size of a baked bean, Julia explains. They also become darker in colour as they feed and grow. They then drop off, often unnoticed. Ticks are also easy to miss because their bites are painless. They have a substance in their saliva that acts like a local anaesthetic, so people are often unaware that they have been bitten, says Julia. For this reason, if youve been out walking or playing in the natural environment, its important to check your child for ticks when you get home.
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Getting The Right Diagnosis
When you go to your doctor, request a Lyme test be performed. Even if you never saw a rash and your child only has a few mild symptoms, request a test.
Initial blood tests include the Western Blot Test or the ELISA Lyme disease test. If Lyme antibodies are active at the time of testing, your childs test will come back positive. Please note, however, if the antibodies are not active at the time, the test will come back negative.
A negative test does not always mean your child does not have Lyme disease. It only means the antibodies were not active. Your doctor should prescribe a round of antibiotics as a precautionary measure based on your childs symptoms.
There are not better tests available right now, but there is one way you can get an accurate diagnosis by visiting a Lyme-literate doctor, a physician with a specialty in the disease. A Lyme-literate specialist can also offer advanced, modern treatments that are safe and will ease the negative symptoms your child is experiencing.
Which Children Are At Risk For Lyme Disease
A child is more at risk for Lyme disease in certain parts of the U.S. during the spring and summer months, when ticks are more active. Ticks live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. A child is more at risk outdoors in these places, or around a pet that has been in these areas.
Lyme has been reported in nearly all states. The most cases have been reported in:
- Northeastern states, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut
- Mid-Atlantic states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania
- Wisconsin and Minnesota
Many cases have also been reported in Asia and Europe.
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated In A Child
Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotic medicine. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Your childs healthcare provider will discuss the best treatment plan with you based on:
- Your childs symptoms and test results
- If your child had a recent tick bite
- If the tick tests positive for bacteria that cause Lyme
- If your child lives in an area where the ticks are known to be infected
Talk with your childs healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
Worried About Lyme Disease
June 26, 2000 — When Duchess County, New York, resident Sally picked up 14-year-old Amy from a summer program last year, she noticed that her daughter seemed unusually fatigued. A couple of weeks later, Sally was shocked to discover that the side of Amy’s face had begun drooping. Sally immediately suspected what her doctor confirmed: Despite having taken what the family thought were adequate precautions against ticks, the girl had developed facial nerve palsy, a symptom of untreated Lyme disease.
While numbers are on the rise among all age groups, the increase is particularly worrisome to people with children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the percentage of Lyme sufferers under age 16 — one of the groups that spend the most time outdoors and have the highest rate of diagnosis — has been gradually rising, from 21.7% in 1992 to 26.1% in 1998. “It’s definitely an issue, especially for people whose houses are near wooded areas,” says Lisa, a mother of two in suburban New Jersey. “Parents see it as a real problem.”
The disease is also a growing concern to people living in the most heavily affected regions of the country — the Northeast and upper Midwest — though epidemiologists have confirmed cases in nearly every state. “In the last several years, the numbers have ranged between 12,000 and 16,000,” says David T. Dennis, MD, coordinator of the Lyme Disease Program at the CDC.
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How To Safeguard Your Family And Prevent Lyme Disease
Now that youre aware of what Lyme disease is and how it affects your family, it pays to attempt to prevent the issue from occurring.
Some of the ways to prevent contracting Lyme disease include:
- Cutting down tall grass and brush to reduce the chance of ticks thriving
- Dress your child in long sleeves and pants if they play out in wooded areas
- Use a child-safe bug spray that prevents ticks
- Check your child after theyve been out playing and pay attention to skin and hair for ticks
- Have your child bathe and wash their hair and clothes when out in tick-prone areas
- Keep your animals outside and make sure theyre medically treated
Investigate how severe Lyme disease is in your area. Your neighbors or city might have information on what to do to prevent it, and how they manage it given your specific location.
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Is It Lyme Disease Or Is It The Flu
While there are some similarities between early Lyme disease symptoms and the flu, theyre very different illnesses. Flu symptoms in babies and toddlers include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Lyme disease symptoms include joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and headache in addition to fever, chills and nausea. Lyme is also most common during the spring and summer months, when the flu is usually uncommon. Additionally, many people who get Lyme disease also have a noticeable bulls eye rash.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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How Do You Test For Lyme Disease In Children
Doctors can usually make a diagnosis of Lyme disease based on a physical exam and the childs medical history. They can also use a blood test to confirm a diagnosis in children who are at high risk for the condition due to travel and a known tick bite.
Parents and physicians should be careful when testing for Lyme disease because tests can result in false positives.
If the child has a tick bite but is not presenting the classic symptoms and hasnt traveled to a Lyme-endemic area, I would be reluctant to move forward with testing for the condition, says Dr. Kahn.
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Toddlers
It is hard to pinpoint when a toddler has been infected with Lyme disease. In fact it is called a ‘great imitator’ as its symptoms are similar to other diseases, making it difficult to diagnose. Some of the early symptoms include a rash which can be solid red or a central oval or round spot with clear skin around it and an expanding ring or red rash, looking similar to a bull’s eye. The rashes may grow up to 12 inches in diameter and the skin may feel warm without any itchy sensation or pain. The other symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, depression and if left untreated, the condition can worsen with muscle and joint pains and stiffness of the joints, back or neck, affecting the central nervous system. It can affect the total well being of the toddler causing irregular heart rhythm, cognitive degeneration, and arthritis, which might show up weeks or years later.
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How To Protect Kids From Tick Bites
Here, our top tips to help prevent tick bites on kids:
Dress your child in light-colored clothing so its easier to spot ticks they should also wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, a hat and closed-toe shoes when playing in an area where ticks may be present
Use insect repellent, such as DEET or permethrin
If you find a deer tick on your child thats been on for more than 36 hours and its been removed for less than 72 hours, call your pediatrician to discuss giving your child a one-time dose of an antibiotic called doxycycline, which is now recommended for kids of all ages to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease after a tick bite.
Meet Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH, official spokespeople for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-authors of The Pediatricians Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. They write about the latest AAP guidelines, studies and seasonal issues affecting babies and toddlers. Follow them on Instagram .
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she will ask about recent tick bites. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
Lyme is usually not hard to diagnose. OBut other conditions may cause similar symptoms. The main symptom is often a rash, but more than 1 in 5 people infected with Lyme dont have the rash. In the earliest stage, diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. In later stages, blood testing is very important to make a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
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How To Treat Lyme Disease In Toddlers
Lyme disease in toddlers can be treated best at the early stages. Call your doctor as soon as you find any suspicious rash and also look for any ticks embedded on the toddlers skin and engorged. It means that the tick has been present for sometime under the skin. If it is attached you have to remove the tick immediately. Once the toddler is diagnosed for Lyme disease, he is treated with oral antibiotics for 3-4 weeks or through intravenous antibiotics. The child may be given anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce joint pain.
Toddler Lyme disease can be prevented by keeping your child well protected when going to wooded areas. Keep them clothed in long pants and full sleeved shirts with the pants tucked into light colored socks. In case you suspect an infection, apply insect repellent and wash your toddler thoroughly at the earliest.
What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
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Pediatric Lyme Disease Can Cause Behavior Problems
Pediatric Lyme disease has been misdiagnosed as OCD, or pediatric Bi-polar disorder. It can also cause Depression. Exposure to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases may also trigger PANS which is an encephalitic-type autoimmune disease that can be induced by different illnesses. In PANS, cells that should be fighting the disease itself break through the blood brain barrier of the child and attack the brain. When a child exhibits sudden changes in behavior with no known cause, the possibility of Lyme and other tick-borne infections should be considered.