Since 2008, when a group of physicians drew a hypothetical link between
But a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the
A group of researchers and clinicians from Weill Cornell Medical College and
Among the 70 patients with autism, one had positive antibodies to the bacterium, suggesting that child had probably been exposed to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The rate of exposure to B burgdorferi was higher among the study's 50 children unaffected by autism: four tested positive for antibodies to the pathogen.
Though a seemingly small group, a statistically significant finding in that sample size would give relatively high confidence that, were a relationship to exist, it would have been picked up.
The researchers acknowledged that this data did not address whether perhaps Lyme disease "may cause autism-like behavioral deficits in some cases." But they said the findings "effectively rule out" the suggestion that children with autism are themselves disproportionately infected by or exposed to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.