Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) is a condition that has intrigued medical professionals for years. The link between strep infections and PANDAS has been a subject of ongoing research. This blog aims to explore the scientific understanding of this link.
What is PANDAS?
PANDAS is a subset of Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and is characterized by the sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic disorders triggered by Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal (GABHS) infection1.
The Complex Relationship
The relationship between streptococcal infections and neuropsychiatric disorders like PANDAS is complex. The diagnosis of PANDAS is based on clinical criteria and is often an exclusionary diagnosis with respect to other neurological and psychiatric disorders1.
Laboratory tests for infection include anti-streptolysin O (ASO) and anti-deoxyribonuclease B (anti-DNAse B). Levels of these markers were found to be 10-fold higher in PANDAS than in PANS, suggesting their importance in identifying subjects with PANDAS1.
One of the major theories proposes that antibodies produced against streptococcal proteins may target brain proteins, particularly in the basal ganglia, leading to rapid-onset OCD symptoms.
Antibiotic therapy is commonly administered in PANDAS cases, although its efficacy on tics and OCD has not been definitively proven1.
While the link between strep infections and PANDAS is still not fully understood, ongoing research continues to shed light on this complex relationship. If your child shows sudden behavioral changes following a strep infection, consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.