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What is PANDAS (Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus infections)

PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus). This term is used to describe a subset of children who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and/or tic disorders such as Tourette Syndrome, and in whom symptoms worsen following strep infections such as “Strep throat” and Scarlet Fever. The children usually have dramatic, “overnight” onset of symptoms, including motor or vocal tics, obsessions, and/or compulsions. In addition to these symptoms, children may also become moody, irritable or show concerns about separating from parents or loved ones. This abrupt onset is generally preceded by a Strep throat infection. Researchers at the NIMH are pursuing a theory that the mechanism or cause is similar to that of Rheumatic Fever, an autoimmune disorder triggered by strep throat infections.PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus)

Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with Streptococcus infections (PANDAS) is a neurological and psychiatric condition in which symptoms are brought on or worsened by a Streptococcal (strep) infection. PANDAS is a subtype of pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS). Signs and symptoms of PANDAS align with current guidelines for diagnosing PANDAS, and include:[1]
– The presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and/or tics (uncontrolled, sudden, repetitive movements or sounds), which are severe enough to interfere the ability to function.
– Symptoms appear between 3 years of age and puberty (although later onset of symptoms is possible).
– Symptoms appear abruptly and dramatically (typically within one to two days) and may repeatedly improve and then suddenly worsen (a relapsing and remitting course).

There is an association between symptom onset or worsening and a group A Streptococcal (GAS) infection. Symptom flares must be associated with a positive throat culture and/or blood tests that show elevated antibodies against a substance produced by GAS (called anti-GAS titers). Children with PANDAS often do not complain of a sore throat despite having an infection. After the initial infection, subsequent flares can be associated with other infectious or environmental triggers.
There are other neurologic abnormalities. When symptoms of PANDAS are present, a neurological exam will be abnormal. Abnormalities may include any of the additional neuropsychiatric symptoms that occur in people with PANS.
The underlying cause of PANDAS is unclear, but studies suggest that a strep infection causes an abnormal immune response resulting in neuropsychiatric symptoms. Management is centered on providing antibiotics for GAS infection, and medication or behavioral therapy for neuropsychiatric symptoms.[2][3]

This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).

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