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- A case of Lyme disease spread from pregnant mother to developing fetus was first documented in 1985. The baby did not survive.
- Acute or chronic health conditions should be managed before getting pregnant.
- Aggressive treatments and detox protocols are not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and treat.
- The bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is a corkscrew-shaped bacteria that hides in tissues and organs.
- A Lyme patient should be stable and healthy before conceiving a child.
- A mother with Lyme disease should also be aware of the risk of passing the illness to a developing fetus or child and take as many precautions as possible to avoid it.
- Lyme can be transmitted congenitally even if a mother gets standard antibiotic treatment during pregnancy.
- A pregnant mother with Lyme disease can birth a stillborn baby.
- Infants of maternal Lyme disease patients often have adverse outcomes, some of which are very severe.
- Lyme disease can be spread through sex.
- Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in semen samples.
- Women with Lyme disease can have B. burgdorferi in their vaginal secretions.
- Mothers can pass Borrelia and coinfections Babesia and Bartonella to developing babies in the womb.
- Mother’s can potentially pass Lyme disease to an infant via breast milk
- Lyme bacteria survive in human blood stored at blood banks.
- Lyme disease can be contracted via dead fragments of the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete.
- Lyme can be transmitted via urine.
- Infertility in both men and women can be the result of chronic infections, fungi, or parasites.
- Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections can contribute to spontaneous abortion, most commonly in the second trimester.
- It’s important to aggressively treat Lyme and other infections and detoxify the body, readying it for pregnancy and birth.
- Children with Lyme disease have many more physiological, cognitive, and psychiatric issues than healthy children.
- Preventing Lyme infection in children is a crucial part of keeping them safe and healthy.
How to Safeguard Yourself Against Lyme Disease in Pregnancy and Beyond
Congenital Lyme disease was first documented in 1985.1 A woman in the state of Wisconsin was bitten by an infected tick in her first trimester of pregnancy. She developed a bullseye lesion and typical Lyme disease symptoms. She received no medical treatment.
The woman gave birth prematurely to a baby boy who only survived 39 hours. The cause of death was identified as congestive heart failure. Several heart defects were revealed in the autopsy. The baby’s spleen, kidneys, bone marrow, and heart were found to contain Lyme disease spirochetes. After pregnancy, the mother tested positive for Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
If you’re planning on getting pregnant, carrying a baby to full term, and giving birth to a healthy baby, your healthcare professional’s recommendations will likely include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management. They may also advise avoiding alcohol, nicotine and tobacco, drugs, and exposure to toxins.
But you’ll also need to manage acute or chronic health conditions. If you have Lyme disease or any of its risky coinfections, you’ll want to do your best to restore health, function, and vitality to the body before conception. That is because aggressive treatments and detox protocols are not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
A Lyme patient must be stable and healthy enough to become pregnant and carry a child to term. A mother should also be aware of the risk of passing the illness to a developing fetus or child and take as many precautions as possible to avoid it.
Why is Lyme Disease Such a Serious Concern?
What makes Lyme disease so dangerous and difficult to treat? And why is Lyme disease so hard to diagnose? The bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is a shrewd survivor. It is a specific type of corkscrew-shaped bacteria called a spirochete. It travels in the bloodstream and then drills into organs and tissues where it’s hard to get at for diagnosis and treatment.
Consequently, Lyme disease should be a concern for those who want to get pregnant, prevent miscarriage, give birth to healthy babies, and raise children who thrive and flourish.
Here are just a few of many other cases that support the evidence of maternal-fetal transmission of Lyme disease:
Congenital Transmission Despite Antibiotic Treatment
A case documented in 1986 discusses Lyme transmission from a mother to an infant.2 In this case, a woman in her first trimester of pregnancy, was bitten by several ticks. After a few weeks, she developed a bullseye rash. She then received a seven-day “standard” course of oral antibiotic.
The woman and her pregnancy both appeared normal. She delivered at full term, with no immediate indication of any problem with the infant. However, in its first day of life, the baby developed breathing issues and died. The autopsy showed brain hemorrhages and found Lyme spirochetes in the brain and the liver. Initial blood tests showed no sign of Lyme disease in the mother.
Stillbirth Following Maternal Lyme Disease
In 1987 in the state of Utah, a woman infected in her first trimester of pregnancy was not diagnosed or treated.3 She remembered having a typical Lyme disease EM rash and swollen joints.
She went into labor at full term, but at that point, the baby’s heartbeat was not detectable, and it was stillborn. An autopsy revealed a large hole in the infant’s heart. The baby’s liver, brain, heart, adrenal glands, and placenta were found to have Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes.
The medical report stated:
“Transmission of the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi from mother to fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy was followed by overwhelming spirochetosis in the fetus.”
Adverse Outcomes in Infants with Lyme-Positive Mothers
A study conducted in 1988 examined 1,416 women & their 1,434 infants at delivery for the presence of antibodies to the Lyme disease spirochete.4 Of these:
- 12 women tested positive for Lyme in a standard ELISA test.
- 6 of the 12 women had a history of pre-existing Lyme disease.
- 7 of the 12 women had adverse outcomes in their babies such as low birth weight, a hole in the heart, an enlarged head, elevated liver enzymes, and more.
- None of the babies had positive ELISA tests for Lyme disease antibodies, so the examiners concluded that Lyme disease was not responsible for the adverse outcomes.
Surprising Facts About Lyme Disease and Coinfection Transmission
Here are some eye-opening facts about Lyme disease and coinfections:
- Lyme disease can be spread through sex.5
- Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in semen samples.6 7
- Women with Lyme disease can have the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria in their vaginal secretions.8
- Mothers can pass B. burgdorferi to their babies in the womb.9
- Coinfections Babesia and Bartonella can also be passed from mother to child.10 11
- Animals, such as cows, have shown to have Lyme disease in their milk, so it makes sense that mothers could pass Lyme disease to their nursing infants via breast milk.12
- Lyme bacteria survive in human blood stored at blood banks.13
- Exposure to dead fragments of the B. burgdorferi spirochete can cause Lyme disease.14
- Lyme disease can be transmitted via urine.15
Infection and Infertility
Infertility in both men and women can be the result of chronic infections, fungi, or parasites.16
- In both men and women symptomatic, asymptomatic, or undiagnosed infections like Lyme disease can contribute to inflammation of the reproductive organs, tissues, and glands and cause infertility.
- Also of concern is that many women with Lyme disease have menstrual irregularities, which can add to infertility problems.
- Many varieties of parasites and fungi can impair the female reproductive system, including egg formation and viability. In men, parasites and fungi can also adversely affect the reproductive system and disrupt sperm formation and motility.17
- Patients with Lyme disease often develop autoimmune impairment, so it follows that Lyme disease could affect fertility. Documented studies reveal that “autoimmunity may affect all stages of fertility, via ovarian failure, testicular failure, implantation failure, and pregnancy loss.”18
In autoimmunity, the immune system can get stuck in a “kill the invader” state. This can manifest as women who “can’t get pregnant” actually becoming pregnant, with the hyperactive autoimmune response actually destroying the newly-conceived fetus.So, this condition is technically more like a miscarriage than infertility. And this hyperactive immune response could carry out it’s “kill the invader” function at any stage of pregnancy, leading to miscarriage.
Infection Leads to Miscarriage and Stillbirth
Miscarriage is a far-reaching issue that can result in adverse physical and mental outcomes. One in five pregnancies results in miscarriage.
Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections can contribute to spontaneous abortion, most commonly in the second trimester. Mold toxin exposure can lead to miscarriage and fetal death.19
Infectious conditions may be to blame for up to 15% of early miscarriages (before 12 weeks) and up to 66% of late miscarriages (12 to 24 weeks). 20
Adverse effects on the placenta, due to the infectious and inflammatory nature of Lyme disease, could be a significant contributor to pregnancy loss. Additionally, maternal infection with Lyme Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete is a confirmed cause of stillbirth. 21
Address Infection and Chronic Illness Before Pregnancy
A healthy pregnancy is actually a condition of immune suppression. The immune system must be suppressed so it won’t attack and damage the developing fetus. A mother with a suppressed immune system will have more difficulty fighting Lyme disease and its coinfections. And we’ve shown earlier just how dangerous a Borrelia burgdorferi infection is to a developing fetus or infant.
So, addressing Lyme disease and its coinfections for 6 months to even a year before attempting conception may be the wisest way to proceed. The focus should not be about just killing Lyme, it should be on making the body healthy. When the body is functioning optimally, it should be able to fight off bacterial infections, even one as severe as Lyme disease.
When there are others stressors, the body may not be able to mount a potent offense against Lyme disease. Stressors that include:
- Unhealthy food and contaminated water
- Mold toxin exposure
- Environmental and chemical toxins
- Heavy metal burden
- Other chronic infections from bacteria, viruses, retroviruses, fungi, and parasites
- Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) toxicity from cell phones, Bluetooth, WiFi, smart meters, etc.
- Toxicity from dental amalgam fillings and jaw cavitations
- Emotional stressors in a family or between parents
So, the goal to achieve conception and a healthy pregnancy in a Lyme patient is to treat as aggressively as they can tolerate. Treat the body for Lyme and coinfections with antimicrobials. Clean up the diet. Address dental and jaw issues. Restore the gut microbiome. Address EMR, mold, and other toxins in the environment.
Open drainage and regulation systems. Promote glymphatic and lymphatic flow. Improve liver/bile duct drainage for toxin removal. Ensure the kidneys and intestines are moving and removing wastes. Remove as many toxins as possible and limit ongoing toxin exposure. Once pregnant, slow down the detox to eliminate toxins mobilized in the bloodstream where they can cross through the placenta and reach the baby.
For the health of you and your baby, it may be advisable to get support from a Lyme-literate professional. My At-Home Lyme Disease Program shares many tools to rid your body of Lyme disease, toxins, and chronic illnesses. The doctors in my 1:1 Coaching Program can provide personalized guidance tailored to your particular needs.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe
Children with Lyme disease, compared to healthy children, have:
- More cognitive and mental disorders. Even after anxiety, depression, and fatigue have been controlled, cognitive issues persist. Long-term nervous system-based psychiatric disturbances are well-documented in children with chronic Lyme disease.22
- Lower grades in school.
- Increased risk of depression.
- Memory problems.
- Difficulty processing information.
- Impaired concentration and focus.
- Inability to maintain friendships.
- Disabling fatigue and pain.
Tips for Parents About Lyme Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control, cases of Lyme disease continue to rise. 25% of all cases are children and adolescents. Children ages 5 to 9 are at greatest risk of getting Lyme disease.
- The bacteria responsible for Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Ticks are everywhere.
- Ticks are small and are good at hiding on the body in places like the underarms and scalp. Check kids head-to-toe after possible exposure. Keep an eye out for the “bullseye” lesion or rash that develops in about 30% of cases.
- Animals carry ticks. Wild animals like deer, squirrels, & mice can have them. Family pets can also attract them when outdoors.
- Ticks live in wooded areas, parks, forests, backyards, and even on beach grasses. Kids should stay on trails & stick to open areas.
- Summertime is tick time. Still, some ticks can survive from fall to spring if temperatures remain above freezing.
- Ticks are more easily spotted on light-colored clothing. Dress children in long sleeves with long pants tucked into socks.
Any tick bite or bullseye rash should be taken very seriously. Keep in mind that standard Lyme disease testing is unreliable, so a diagnosis may have to be made by symptoms alone. If you suspect Lyme disease or coinfection, get Lyme-literate help.
Check out my At-Home Lyme Disease Program for supportive information and tools for Lyme disease and chronic illness. The caring doctors in my 1:1 Coaching Program can also provide personalized support and guidance for you or your child.
Preventing Lyme disease in pregnancy and children is of utmost importance. Lyme Borrelia burgdorferi and its co-infections are formidable enemies. Know how to keep yourself and your kids safe. Stay vigilant and err toward the side of caution. Take to heart Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted advice: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- Schlesinger, PA et al. “Maternal-Fetal Transmission of the Lyme Disease Spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi.” Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 103, Jul 1985. Web
- Weber, K et al. “Borrelia burgdorferi in a Newborn Despite Oral Penicillin for Lyme Borreliosis During Pregnancy.” Pediatr Infect Dis J, Vol 7. Apr 1988. Web
- MacDonald, AB et al. “Stillbirth Following Maternal Lyme Disease.” N Y State J Med, Vol. 87, No. 11, Nov 1987. Web
- Remington, J and Klein, J. Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant, 8th Edition, Saunders, 2016. Web
- “Possibility of Lyme Disease Being Sexually Transmitted.” Journal of Investigative Medicine, Vol. 62, No. 1, Jan 2014. Web
- Recovery of Lyme Spirochetes by PCR in Semen Samples Of Previously Diagnosed Lyme Disease Patients.” WhatIsLyme.com, n.d. Web
- Woodrum, JE and Oliver, JH. “Investigation of Venereal, Transplacental, and Contact Transmission of the Lyme Disease Spirochete, Borrelia Burgdorferi, in Syrian Hamsters.” The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 85, No. 3, Jun 1999. Web
- “Possibility of Lyme Disease Being Sexually Transmitted.” Journal of Investigative Medicine, Vol. 62, No. 1, Jan 2014. Web
- MacDonald, AB. “Gestational Lyme Borreliosis. Implications for the Fetus.” Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America, Vol. 15, No. 4, Nov 1989. Web
- Sethi, Sonia et al. “Probable Congenital Babesiosis in Infant, New Jersey, USA” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 15, No. 5, 2009. Web
- Breitschwerdt, EB et al. “Molecular Evidence of Perinatal Transmission of Bartonella vinsonii Subsp. berkhoffii and Bartonella henselae to a Child.“ Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Vol. 48, No. 6, Jun 2010. Web
- Burgess, Ec et al. “Borrelia burgdorferi Infection in Wisconsin Horses and Cows.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 539, No. 1, 1988. Web
- Nadelman, RB et al. “Survival of Borrelia burgdorferi in Human Blood Stored under Blood Banking Conditions.” Transfusion, Vol. 30, No. 4, May 1990. Web
- Klatt, Edward, C and Vinay, K. Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology, 4th Edition, Saunders, 10 Oct 2014.
- Weintraub, P. Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic. New York: St Martin’s Griffin, 2008.
- Novy, M et al, Glob. libr. women’s med, 2008. Web
- Kranjcić-Zec, I et al. “The Role of Fungi and Parasites in Secondary Infertility.” Medicinski Pregled, Vol. 57, No. 1-2, Jan-Feb 2004. Web
- Carp, HJ et al. “The Autoimmune Bases of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss.” Journal of Autoimmunity, Vol. 38, May 2012. Web
- “Staying Healthy During Pregnancy: Early Miscarriage.” PennStateHershey.adam.com, Penn State Hershey/Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Web
- Giakoumelou, Sevi et al. “The Role of Infection in Miscarriage” Human Reproduction Update, Vol. 22, No. 1, 19 Sep 2015. Web
- MacDonald A, et al. “Stillbirth Following Maternal Lyme Disease. NY State.” J Med, Vol. 87, 1987. Web
- Tager, Felice et al. “A Controlled Study of Cognitive Deficits in Children With Chronic Lyme Disease.” The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Vol. 13, No. 4, Nov 2001. Web