Evaluation of children with clinically suspected neuroborreliosis (NB) is difficult. With a prospective study design we wanted to characterize children with signs and symptoms indicative for NB, investigate clinical outcome and, if possible, identify factors of importance for recovery.
Children being evaluated for NB (n = 177) in southeast Sweden were categorized into 3 groups: “confirmed neuroborreliosis” (41%) with Borrelia antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid, “possible neuroborreliosis” (26%) with pleocytosis but no Borrelia antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid, and “not determined” (33%) with no pleocytosis and no Borrelia antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid. Antibiotic treatment was given to 69% of children. Patients were followed during 6 months and compared with a matched control group (n = 174).
Clinical recovery at the 6-month follow-up (n = 177) was generally good and no patient was found to have recurrent or progressive neurologic symptoms. However, persistent facial nerve palsy caused dysfunctional and cosmetic problems in 11% of patients. Persistent nonspecific symptoms, such as headache and fatigue, were not more frequently reported in patients than in controls. Influence on daily life was reported to the same extent in patients and controls. Consequently, persistent headache and fatigue at follow-up should not be considered as attributable to NB. No prognostic factors could be identified.
Clinical recovery was satisfactory in children being evaluated for NB although persistent symptoms from facial nerve palsy occurred. Persistent nonspecific symptoms, such as headache and fatigue, were not more frequently reported in patients than in controls.