Autism not linked to Lyme disease

22 May

There are many hypotheses of what causes autism.  Many.  Among those is that autism is caused by Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by infections of bacteria spread by ticks. A quick internet search brings up numerous sites discussing a supposed link between autism and lyme disease, with organizations, conventions and books devoted to the idea. For example, one book is titled The Lyme-Autism Connection: Unveiling the Shocking Link Between Lyme Disease and Childhood Developmental Disorders. Nine studies in pubmed come up on a search with terms autism and lyme.

A group calling itself “Lyme Induced Autism” claims that a large fraction of autistic children have active Lyme infection:

A subset a children on the autism spectrum also have active Borreliosis, we don’t know how large of a subset this is, we do know from informal studies that it is AT LEAST 20-30% which would be over 200,000 children in the United States alone.

Emphasis in the original.

So, one would expect that testing a large number of autistic children for antibodies against the bacteria would bring up AT LEAST 20-30% postives. But that isn’t the case. A recent study from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that in a sample of 104 autistic children, none of them had antibodies. None. Not 20%. Not 2%. None.

Lack of serum antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi in children with autism.

The abstract is brief and to the point:

It has been proposed that Borrelia burgdorferi infection is associated with ∼25% of children with autism spectrum disorders. Here antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi were assessed in autistic (n=104), developmentally delayed (n=24) and healthy control (n=55) children. No seropositivity against Borrelia burgdorferi was detected in the children with and without autism. There was no evidence of an association between Lyme disease and autism.

Repeat for emphasis: There was no evidence of an association between Lyme disease and autism

Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics. Some groups have taken to long-term antibiotic use to treat autism (just as other groups have taken to long-term antiviral use or long-term chelation to treat other purported causes of autism). The long-term antibiotic movement got support a few years ago when Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier claimed that autism is caused by bacterial infections. His methods and conclusions were far from the quality one would expect from a standard researcher, much less a Nobel Laureate.

Not everyone promotes long term antibiotics, though. The “Lyme Induced Autism” organization does include a page on antibiotics, they promote the following methods of treating autism:

– Antimicrobials – either herbal, homeopathic, energetic or as a last resort pharmaceuticals

– Nutrition – A diet free of genetically modified organisms, organic whole fruits, vegetables, gluten free grains, organic grass fed beef, organic hormone free – free range chicken, organic juicing, etc. Building a good healthy diet as a base to strengthen the body and gastrointestinal system feeding the body to strengthen the cells.

– Gentle chelation when appropriate and with adequate binders available to assist in detoxification.

– Opening of detoxification pathways to assist with moving dead microbes and metals out of the body, preventing reabsorption and heavy detox symptoms. This can be done with herbs, energetic medicine, laser, homeopathy and/or homotoxicology.

– Regenerating the brain by using neurofeedback, biofeedback, herbs, energy medicine, light and sound devices, sensory input, etc.

– Emotional healing using recall healing, cognitive therapy, addressing family issues and emotional blockages preventing true healing the family.

-Customizing treatments by utilizing individual testing with lab work, energetic testing, ART testing, etc.

-Avoidance of chemicals, pesticides, EMF/EMR, GMO’s, preservatives, food colorings, synthetic supplements.

Why chelation (or pretty much any of the above)? Seriously, why chelation to treat a persistent bacterial infection while avoiding “pharmaceuticals” (i.e. antibiotics)?

The evidence for Lyme disease as the cause of autism for a large fraction of the population has always been shaky. Given that, I doubt this evidence will stop the groups who promote the idea.

By Matt Carey

16 Responses to “Autism not linked to Lyme disease”

  1. Izic May 22, 2013 at 19:07 #

    The study the Auther reference uses an antiquated approach for detecting Lyme. In fact, the Western Blot has a 35-40% accuracy rate at detecting Lyme. Additionally, in the State of Virginia, doctors are legally bound to inform their patients that suspect Lyme that the Western Blot is an ineffective test for detecting Lyme. Therefore, the study reference and article are categorically false and incomplete.
    In addition, Lyme is further victimized by publication bias. Scientist and journalist cherry pick what they want to publish.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) May 22, 2013 at 19:55 #

      They used a two-tiered approach to testing for Lyme, not just the Western Blot:

      After testing with the first method, called ELISA, one child with autism tested positive and four tested as borderline. In the non-autistic children, four tested positive and one was borderline. 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.


      John Halperin, a neurologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, called the study “well-powered to test the hypothesis” that a significant number of autism cases are attributable to Lyme disease. Halperin approves of the manner in which the authors searched the participants’ blood for Lyme disease—a two-tier test involving an ELISA test to detect antibodies against B. burgdorferi bacteria, and a Western Blot test to confirm them. “Several studies show that the test’s sensitivity is 99 percent and the specificity is close behind that, which is as good as any antibody test out there,” Halperin said.

      Were you aware that they used a two-step test? If so, why did you phrase your comment as though only the Western Blot was used? If not, where did you get your incorrect information?

    • Science Mom May 22, 2013 at 19:58 #

      The study the Auther reference uses an antiquated approach for detecting Lyme. In fact, the Western Blot has a 35-40% accuracy rate at detecting Lyme.

      That is not correct. The authors used a novel immunoprecipitation assay with a 98% sensitivity and specificity.

  2. Science Mom May 22, 2013 at 19:53 #

    Why chelation (or pretty much any of the above)? Seriously, why chelation to treat a persistent bacterial infection while avoiding “pharmaceuticals” (i.e. antibiotics)?

    Remember, this is the throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-if-something-sticks group. These poor children.

  3. lilady May 22, 2013 at 21:05 #

    Hey Izic: Have you any links to citations about the reliability of the two-tier Lyme disease test?

    Have you read any of the PubMed published articles on Lyme disease authored by Dr. Halperin?

    Have you any links to your Lyme disease internet “sources”, so that we could judge the reliability of those “sources”?

    BTW Izic: I know the authors of both the articles I linked to. They are world-renowned experts in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

    • Izic September 12, 2013 at 02:35 #

      Below are references as to why the two-tired serology is atrocious and unreliable.

      Assessment diagnostic testing
       CDC two-tired serology ELISA with confirmatory
      Western Blot
       College of American Pathologists: commercially available FDA-approved kits only 36-70% sensitive, the ELISA assay does not have adequate sensitivity to be part of a two tiered approach to diagnosis
      Bakken et al., J Clin Microbiol 1997; 35(3): 537-543
       NY Dept Health 1996: found CDC’s two tiered testing missed 82% positive Lyme cases
      DeBuono, B. NY Dept of Health report to CDC April 15, 1996
       John’s Hopkins study 2005: found CDC two tiered testing missed 75% of positive Lyme cases
      Coulter, et al., J Clin Microbiol 2005; 43: 5080-5084

      • Izic September 12, 2013 at 03:25 #

         Two tiered CDC testing ELISA / WB

         Developed for surveillance not diagnosis.
         The CDC itself states that it is inappropriate to use surveillance case definitions for establishing clinical diagnoses, determining the standard of care necessary for a particular patient, setting guidelines for quality assurance or for providing standards for reimbursement.

  4. Anna the Flutist May 22, 2013 at 23:55 #

    Weird people come up with untrue, crazy ideas. Sadly, people believe them.

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  6. Frankie Clark March 2, 2014 at 11:00 #

    Izic is on the money. There is ample evidence, world wide and in the CDC, that antibody tests are USELESS for ruling OUT lyme. That said, there are very few false positives. Look up “Nine reasons why antibody tests fail to diagnose lyme”. Elisa Titer and Western Blot tests are indirect tests. We need a reliable test for the direct detection of the bacteria. Anyone can find an “expert” somewhere to validate the “latest and greatest” test for lyme. Want the truth? Follow the money! Who pays for the studies. What is the financial connection between these experts and the studies. I already have and the revelations re shameful. Lyme is a pleomorphic stealth pathogen (“Cell Wall Deficient Forms”, Lida Mattman) and is extremely difficult to test or treat. The current medical community is widely split on both of those issues. It is a clinical disease and must be diagnosed and treated based on clinical symptoms. At the very least, let our dialogue respect that fact. The failure to do so has resulted in a world wide epidemic of biblical proportions. So called “auto-immune” illnesses have become a laughable waste paper basket moniker for what is actually undiagnosed underlying neurotoxin mediated illnesses; most of them tick-borne. Please see go to Thanks for listening.

    • Seattle_girl_67 April 11, 2014 at 07:20 #

      Much of the problem with Lyme disease (man made disease AND not spread by ticks – total coverup)…;man gave it to the ticks in Agent Orange and herbicides such as round up. It is exuberated by EMF effects…..that depolarize the cells and allow bacteria, fungus and molds to do what they are intended to do…break down decaying matter.l

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 14, 2014 at 21:02 #

        Wow. That’s quite a lot of speculation packed into one paragraph. Complete with a conspiracy theory wrapper.

  7. Seattle_girl_67 April 11, 2014 at 07:15 #

    Quirky Lyme bacteria thrives on Heavy metals such as mercury. This bacteria is just doing it’s job as nature intended and happens to be in many children and adults body’s,

  8. Will Wiegman March 10, 2016 at 02:16 #

    Nope, Autism related to the 2nd year big vaccine shot is now undeniably linked to a Chronic Congenital Lyme Induced Severe Thiocyanate Defciciency.
    A 90 day, double blind study of hundreds of Congenital Lyme and Autistic kids all over the world is only in it’s 17th day and dozens of kids are waking up between day 14-16, talking again, playing sports, and singing songs! Their parents, coaches, teachers and personal Doctors monitoring them are astounded as am I.
    The trial was to see if the Wiegman Pulsed Lyme Ptotocol can cure Congenital Lyme, which it did with the first couple of test subects, which led to the bigger group being formed.
    Not only does the Wiegman Pulsed Lyme Protocol cure congenital lyme, only the dietary preparations before the antibiotics even start is curing the Autism in the test subjects!
    Only Non-GM and Non-GMO food sources of the Thiocyanate precursor, HMDB35030, are being used to reverse the Thiocyanate Deficiency.
    Thiocyanate it is the ONLY precursor to the ONLY internal antioxidant that B-Cell Neutrophils can use to Process Vaccines!!!!!

    • Chris March 10, 2016 at 06:59 #

      Citation needed.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 17, 2016 at 22:58 #

      Nope, Autism related to the 2nd year big vaccine shot is now undeniably linked to a Chronic Congenital Lyme Induced Severe Thiocyanate Defciciency.

      Everyone notices that you didn’t even try to back up your claim. Just make the assertion and some fraction of the public will believe you, right? Then you move right into promoting some fake cure based on, again, unsupported claims.

      How many times have I seen people “know” what causes autism and “know” the cure and be so sure about it that it is “undeniable”?

      I don’t know if you are selling the “cure” or are just a believer, but you are helping people pull off a scam on the disability community.

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