Saturday, October 1, 2011

PANDAS; Not so Cute and Cuddly

Pandas!! (GIANT PANDA/WOLONG/SICHUAN/CHINA)Image via Wikipedia
There is a very weird and disturbing syndrome that is attacking children across thew country. It is stealthy,damaging and right under our noses. The thing I am talking about is called PANDAS. Not the black and white cuddly bears from China. This PANDA is far from passive. PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychological Disorder Associated with Streptococcus. See why they call it PANDAS?This syndrome occurs in kids who have had a strep infection. These kids may recover well with a course of antibiotics, but then after the strep symptoms leave, they become obsessive and may complain of unusual things, such as the smell of the car too over whelming for them to enter it. They may suddenly have a fear of going to school. They may have unrealistic fears and anxiety suddenly. If the child is placed on antibiotics again for whatever reason, the symptoms will likely disappear again, which only confuses the entire picture. In certain cases, the children are placed on an extended course of antibiotics, which does may the symptoms go away. But if they contract another infection, the symptoms will likely return. This even happens with a non bacterial infection, like the flu. Many kids that may be suffering from PANDAS, are treated as psychiatric patients due to the mental health type presentations which can be explained by over whelming anxiety and panic attacks. In the case of PANDAS, however the psychiatric medications do not have a positive effect. This continues to baffles doctors that are not aware of PANDAS. Once the case is referred to pediatric specialists who know about PANDAS, the correct diagnosis is made and treatment begins targeting the autoimmune responses in the body of the child. This is a very controversial diagnosis, but it has been accepted by many insurance carriers as a valid condition. Research continues and so does the quest for a treatment that will dismiss the effects of PANDAS for life.
There is some suggestion that children with autism may have a higher incidence of PANDAS than the rest of the population. Again research continues. The best thing any parent can do is know what is normal for your child, read about PANDAS and know when you need to bring it up with your pediatrician. We all depend upon medical professionals to know what to do, but sometimes being an active participant in your health care can have major positive outcomes. Don't be afraid to suggest something to you doctors. Contrary to popular belief they don't know everything.
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