Can Mothers Pass Lyme Disease to Their Unborn Children?

New Concerns About Tick-Borne Illnesses

Lyme disease, a debilitating illness carried by infected black-legged and deer ticks, has been a concern of Connecticut residents for decades now. The disease delivers flu-like symptoms including fever, aches, chills and fatigue. Untreated, it can cause more serious issues like arthritis and even brain disorders. Because the initial symptoms are common and easily overlooked, Lyme disease can progress and cause long-term health issues.

Now there’s a new concern that mothers who were undiagnosed with Lyme disease while pregnant may have passed the illness to their unborn children. The CDC reports “Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth; however, no negative effects on the fetus have been found when the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment.”

However, since so many cases of Lyme disease go undetected in the early stages of the illness, many mothers may be unaware of the infection – and unknowingly pass it on to their babies. A group of mothers in Canada has organized to lobby to raise awareness of the diseases during pregnancy. These women all gave birth to children who experienced symptoms from digestive problems to impaired motor skills. Some of their children were so severely ill that they were bedridden; one boy was forced to miss high school entirely. Doctors were unable to diagnose the issues, and in some cases assumed they were psychosomatic.

All of the mystery illnesses were solved when the mothers and children were tested for and diagnosed with Lyme disease. Now the women are fighting to help other families by raising awareness and advocating for testing. The group recently spoke to CTV in Canada:

“Women need to know this is a possibility. Doctors need to know this is a possibility,” said Jennifer Kravis, co-founder and director of advocacy group LymeHope. She and other mothers and their children gathered together in Burlington, Ont. to talk to CTV’s medical correspondent Avis Favaro earlier this month.
Kravis says LymeHope is working to ensure all front-line medical professionals understand Lyme disease and that Canada invests in diagnosis, testing and treatments.

Read the full article and watch the CTV news story here.

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