Lyme disease and pregnancy

The most effective way to protect you and your unborn child from Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. If you are bitten by a tick, remove the tick as soon as possible and see your health care provider.

Lyme disease during pregnancy

There is not enough evidence to confirm that Lyme disease during pregnancy has adverse effects for the fetus. In addition, no adverse effects for the fetus have been observed when the pregnant woman receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for her Lyme disease.

Evidence to-date includes:

  • Case reports, which study individual cases

    Case reports have raised the possibility that Lyme disease in pregnant women may have adverse outcomes for the fetus or newborn. However, it is not clear if and how the adverse outcomes were caused by the Lyme disease bacteria.

  • Epidemiological studies

    Epidemiological studies have not found a consistently higher rate of adverse outcomes of pregnancy in women with, or at risk of, Lyme disease, compared to pregnant women who are not infected or at risk. These studies cannot rule out the occurrence of adverse outcomes of Lyme disease in pregnancy.

Further research is required to better understand if there may be adverse effects of Lyme disease during pregnancy.

Treating Lyme disease while pregnant

Most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. Depending on the symptoms and when you were diagnosed, you may require a longer course or repeat treatment with antibiotics.

Some people experience symptoms that continue more than 6 months after treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent symptoms and possible treatment methods.

Treatment for pregnant women with Lyme disease is similar to that of other individuals. However, certain antibiotics, such as doxycycline should not be used as it can affect the fetus.

No life-threatening effects on the fetus have been found in cases where the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for her Lyme disease.

Breastfeeding

There have been no reports of Lyme disease being spread from mother to child through breast milk. Treatment of Lyme disease while breastfeeding should also not have consequences for the child. Consult your health care provider to discuss appropriate antibiotic treatment.

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