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The occurrence of IgM and IgG antibodies against Borrelia burgdoferi in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and intrathecal synthesis of antibodies (antibody index) were studied in relation to clinical presentation and the duration of symptoms before diagnosis in 146 children diagnosed with neuroborreliosis. Lymphocytic meningitis was demonstrated in 141 of these children. Levels of white blood cells (WBC) and protein in CSF correlated significantly to numbers of d with symptoms. Children were divided into 3 clinical groups: A (n = 37): only cranial neuropathy; B (n = 68): both cranial neuropathy and other neurological symptoms; C (n = 41): neurological symptoms without cranial neuropathy. Levels of WBC and protein in CSF as well as the proportion of children with antibodies in serum and CSF were generally lowest in group A, intermediate in group B and highest in group C. The proportion of children with antibodies in serum and CSF and a positive antibody index was also related to duration of symptoms; the antibody index was present in 51% of children with symptoms 7 d (p<0.01). The clinical presentation and duration of symptoms must be considered when interpreting laboratory data in children with suspected neuroborreliosis.