Attention in children with Lyme disease as compared to those with ADHD
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Lyme disease (LD) is a multisystemic spirochetal illness transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. It can manifest in any number and combination of physical, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. There have been few empirical studies done on the cognitive effects of LD on children and adolescents. This study compares the auditory and visual attention deficits in children and adolescents with LD with a group of their peers with inattentive type Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.;Participants included 40 children between the ages of 9 and 16: 20 with chronic LD and 20 who met DSM-IV criteria for inattentive type ADHD. The children were assessed using a neuropsychological battery, including the WISC III, Conners CPT, and select subtests of the WRAML. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The Children's Depression Inventory was completed by the children.;Analysis revealed no significant difference between the two groups on the Vocabulary score or Verbal Comprehension Index of the WISC-III. The two groups were found to have similar levels of self-reported depression and parent-reported anxious/depressed feelings and problems with attention. The attention problems scale of the CBCL revealed a score for the LD group that was somewhat higher than the norm. Overall analysis of the auditory attention variable revealed no significant difference between the two groups when controlling for negative affect. However, examined individually, the LD group performed significantly better than the ADHD group on two of the four measures. The two groups did not differ significantly on any of the visual attention measures.;Collectively these findings suggest that children with LD may experience attention deficits in ways that, in part, resemble their peers with inattentive type ADHD. The discussion focuses on the medical and educational implications of LD-related attention problems and the benefit of early diagnosis and intervention, as well as on the need to replicate the present findings with a sample large enough to detect more subtle differences in the cognitive symptoms associated with LD and ADHD.