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Dr Marie Sartain
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Most children recover from Lyme disease within 6 months of treatment, says study

New findings from researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) conclude that most children with Lyme disease recovered from their symptoms within 6 months.

The findings, which were based on survey responses from the parents of 102 children ages 5 to 18 years, revealed that 75% of children fully recovered within 6 months of completing antibiotic treatment: 31% of all children recovered within 1 month; 30% recovered in 1 to 3 months; and 14% recovered in 4 to 6 months.

Approximately 22% of children in the study experienced at least one symptom that persisted 6 or more months after completing treatment. Of those, 9% had symptoms classified as post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLD) syndrome. Six percent of the children were not fully recovered at the time of the survey, with 1% experiencing symptoms significant enough to impair daily functioning, the authors noted.

The children had all been diagnosed with Lyme disease between 6 months and 10 years before enrollment. Adolescents ages 10 to 18 years old were also invited to complete adolescent-specific questionnaires.

Antibiotic treatment resulting in full recovery is successful in most Lyme cases.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a distinct skin rash called erythema migrans. Without treatment, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

For some, however, symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking persist or return after antibiotic treatment. Symptoms that substantially reduce levels of activity and impact quality of life for more than 6 months after treatment are classified as PTLD syndrome.

According to the researchers, who were from both NIAID and the Children’s National Research Institute, the study supports previous data showing an excellent overall prognosis for children with Lyme disease, which should help alleviate understandable parental stress associated with lingering non-specific symptoms among infected children.

The research team also suggested this new data could help reduce the potential for families seeking dangerous alternative therapies for children who experience prolonged recovery times. PTLD syndrome remains poorly understood in children and adults, and more research is needed to better understand these prolonged symptoms and identify treatment targets, according to the authors.

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