Neurologic manifestations in children with Lyme disease

Pediatrics. 1995 Dec;96(6):1053-6.


Objective: Lyme disease (LD) is a tick-borne spirochetal infection with a wide range of neurologic and non-neurologic manifestations. The clinical diversity of LD and limitations in serologic diagnosis often make it difficult to document the diagnosis of neuroborreliosis with certainty.

Methods: We reviewed clinical manifestations in 97 seropositive children with particular attention to neurologic manifestations. Diagnostic criteria used in other case surveys were applied to determine how often a definitive diagnosis of neuroborreliosis could be made in children.

Results: Of 69 children who met criteria for LD, 32% (22) had new neurologic signs, 73% (16) of which were accounted for by facial palsy and aseptic meningitis. Five of those with neurologic findings also had erythema migrans (EM), and one had both EM and arthritis. Among those with neurologic involvement, boys outnumbered girls two to one. Neurologic abnormalities resolved spontaneously in five children before their serologic results were known.

Conclusion: In our series, only 27% of children with neurologic abnormalities due to LD had a history of EM or arthritis. Seropositivity commonly constituted the primary basis for diagnosis of LD. Despite its nonspecificity, seropositivity for LD in children with neurologic symptoms usually signifies active neuroborreliosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lyme Disease / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Lyme Disease / complications
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Polyneuropathies / diagnosis


  • Antibodies, Bacterial