A child at my son's school was recently diagnosed with something called "PANS."
What is this? – Winni
PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric
Syndrome. Researchers are only beginning to study and understand
this syndrome, so there are a lot of unanswered questions about what it is and what
What we do know is that kids with PANS have severe symptoms of obsessive-compulsive
disorder (OCD) that come on very suddenly. They also may have sudden and severe
anxiety, mood swings,
irritability, or uncontrollable movements. School performance might suffer, and some
kids have sleep problems or a sudden case of bedwetting.
It's unclear why these symptoms happen. One theory is that an earlier infection
may have led to the development of antibodies that — besides attacking the infecting
germs — mistakenly targeted an area of the brain that controls behavior.
In the past, some kids with these symptoms were diagnosed as having PANDAS (Pediatric
Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Associated with Streptococcus). This name was given
because it seemed that symptoms were brought on by a streptococcus infection, like
Now, however, researchers are finding that symptoms can be triggered by other infections
(such as the flu, chickenpox,
mycoplasma, and Lyme disease)
or may be caused by something else entirely. Because of this, the new name "PANS"
was coined to more accurately describe the syndrome (and put the focus on the symptoms,
rather than the symptoms and cause). PANDAS, a term still widely in use,
is now considered a type of PANS.
PANS isn't contagious, so kids can't catch it from a classmate. If a contagious
infection (like strep throat) triggered someone's
PANS, that illness
can be passed from one person to another. But
in general, you don't have to worry about your child developing PANS. Almost all school-age
kids get infections and almost all recover with no complications. Similarly, most
kids who have OCD did not get it as a result of PANS.
Scientists are studying PANS to better understand the possible link between infections,
OCD, and other symptoms.