Neurological symptoms are a common manifestation of Lyme disease and arguably one of the most difficult and debilitating parts of living with chronic Lyme disease. Studies have found that about 15% of adults with Lyme disease experience neurological symptoms but investigations have found that children may be more susceptible to neurological problems from Lyme disease than adults. Common neurological symptoms of Lyme disease may include painful radiculopathy, facial nerve paresis, and lymphocytic meningitis and more sever rarer symptoms may be epileptic seizures and cerebral vasculitis with stroke or aneurysms.
One study of 232 children under the age of 15 found that 28% of the Lyme positive children studied had neuroborreliosis and 7% had lymphocytoma. These percentages are significantly higher than the 14% of Lyme positive adults with neuroborreliosis and 2% with lymphocytoma out of 1239 in the study. The study theorized that the location of the tick bit might explain why children are more susceptible to neuroborreliosis and lymphocytoma. According to the study, the most common place for a child to be bitten was the ear and the most common place for an adult to be bitten was on the lower limbs. This close proximity to the brain might explain the higher rate of neuroborreliosis and lymphocytoma in children but is only a theory needing more investigation to be confirmed.
Whatever the reasons, it is evident that our children are at higher risk of neuroborreliosis, lymphocytoma and possibly other neurological problems associated with Lyme disease that could begin with chronic headaches and trouble concentrating in school and become more severe resulting in weakness of the left side of the body and even seizures. We all want to protect the most vulnerable part of our population, so check for tick bites on your children after hikes and know the warning signs because the best possible defense against Lyme disease is attentiveness and early detection.