PANDA/PANS Awareness Day
Oct 09, 2021
by Alex Tripp, Collaborator
Have you heard of PANDA/PANS before? I had heard of it previously, but up until doing some reading after finding out October 9th was PANDA/PANS Awareness day, I honestly didn’t know much about it.
So… What is it?
PANDA (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus/Strep): caused by an autoimmune response to a streptococcus infection.
PANS (Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome): caused by a bacterial infection other than strep, creating an autoimmune response, such as (but not limited to) Lyme Disease, mononucleosis, or H1N1.
The bacteria or infection itself is not the issue, but rather the body’s reaction to the bacteria that can cause inflammation in certain areas of the child’s brain - resulting in sudden and drastic changes in behaviour.
These changes may look like…
- Sudden onset of obsessions, compulsions and/or tics (may present with OCD-like tendencies)
- Eating challenges (restricting food intake, “picky” eating)
- Sensory issues
- Intense episodes of irritability or rage, inability to control emotions
- Difficulties with memory and attention
- Sudden separation anxiety
- New fears/phobias
- Deterioration of motor skills, ie: handwriting
- Incontinence, bed wetting
- Unusual movements of the body
The exact number of children who will be impacted by PANDA/PANS is unknown, but conservative estimates are around 1 in 200 in the U.S. Treatment of PANDA/PANS typically consists of a long course of antibiotics and many children make a full recovery. For more severe cases that are unresponsive to antibiotics, “plasmapheresis” (exchange of blood plasma) or IVIG (intravenous immunoglobin) treatments may be required. These treatments allow the child to receive concentrated amounts of antibodies from healthy blood donors. Additionally, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Occupational Therapy and anti-anxiety meds may be used in conjunction with other treatment methods.
So there you have it! Now we know the basics about PANDA/PANS. This October 9th, start a conversation with somebody about what you’ve learned and keep spreading awareness!