Q: My daughter was recently diagnosed with PANDAS. My pediatrician explained that it is something that creates anxiety if there is undiagnosed strep. I don’t totally understand the concept and I was wondering if you could explain this. Thank you.
A: In the past few decades, more research on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) has given us a better understanding of certain manifestations of OCD. Let me start by explaining what PANDAS is: children with PANDAS act the way many children with OCD do, but these symptoms are usually abruptly occur. Parents describe them as developing “overnight” and these symptoms are generally preceded by a strep throat infection.
Researchers believe that the antibodies that children’s bodies build up in order to fight the strep infection begin to attack other parts of the children’s bodies once the infection is gone. While still a bit unclear, researchers believe that these antibodies to strep can wreak havoc in the body, causing OCD and tic formation.
The test for PANDAS is actually a medical diagnosis and not every child who has OCD or tics has PANDAS. That said, if your pediatrician runs a blood test for PANDAS, there are two courses of treatment that are recommended: a long-run of antibiotics to reduce the antibodies and cognitive behavioral therapy to minimize the symptoms of OCD.