Recently, my wife asked me if I had ever heard of PANDAS. Since I hadn't, I began to do some research on the topic and I thought I'd share some of what I learned with you.
PANDAS stands for pediatricautoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections. As the name suggests, it's a neurocognitive condition that seems to be triggered in children by strep throat and related conditions. When strep is not treated appropriately; for example, if the antibiotics don't work, the infection can cause swelling of the brain. Months later, the symptoms begin to surface:
- OCD behaviors
- Personality changes
- Academic struggles
- Sensory disturbances
- Restrictive eating behaviors
- Irritability and agitation
- Behavioral and developmental regression
- Severe separation anxiety
- Bed wetting and urinary issues
PANS (pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome) is similar to PANDAS but without the link to streptococcal infection. PANS is related to triggers in the environment that result in the same brain swelling and associated symptoms. It is estimated that 1/200 children are impacted by PANDAS/PANS.
The primary response to PANDAS/PANS is receiving early intervention to prevent its progression. In addition, there are medical interventions being implemented; for example, antibiotics and injections. These conditions must be managed long-term as being exposed to peers with strep can cause an increase in symptoms, often requiring another round of antibiotics.
What can I do to help and learn more?
The PANDAS Network website was very helpful to me in researching this topic. You can become more informed by reviewing their resources and articles. You can also help support PANDAS research by donating to the PANDAS Network here.
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