Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) are conditions that significantly affect the lives of children and their families. However, despite the progress in research, there are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding these disorders. This blog aims to address and clarify some of these misconceptions to provide a clearer understanding of PANS and PANDAS.
Myth 1: PANS and PANDAS Are Not Real Conditions:
Despite the skepticism, research studies have provided substantial evidence supporting PANS and PANDAS as types of autoimmune encephalitis. A notable study from Yale and Columbia University in 2020 supported PANS and PANDAS as legitimate medical conditions with a basis in autoimmune responses1.
Myth 2: The Symptoms Are Merely Behavioral Issues:
The symptoms of PANS and PANDAS are often severe and can include a sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), restrictive eating, tics, and extreme mood changes, among others. These are not mere behavioral issues but are neuropsychiatric symptoms triggered by an abnormal immune response to infections, often streptococcal infections in the case of PANDAS23.
Myth 3: PANS and PANDAS Are Commonly Recognized and Well Understood:
PANS and PANDAS are often misdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness and understanding among healthcare providers. They are relatively lesser-known compared to other psychiatric disorders, and the sudden and dramatic onset of symptoms can sometimes be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions4.
Myth 4: There Are No Treatment Options Available:
Treatment modalities do exist for managing symptoms of PANS and PANDAS. Interventions such as Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) have shown promise in managing symptoms by modulating the immune response. Additionally, family support and education are crucial for successful treatment5.
Myth 5: PANS and PANDAS Only Affect Children with Previous Health Issues:
Children who develop PANS or PANDAS often have a genetic predisposition which when combined with environmental stressors such as infections, trigger the onset of these syndromes. It’s not solely confined to children with previous health issues6.
Dispelling myths and spreading accurate information about PANS and PANDAS is essential to foster better understanding and support for affected individuals and their families. Continued research and education are vital to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and overall management of these challenging conditions.