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PANDAS: When a Simple Strep Throat Leads to Frightening Behavior

U.S. NEWS

July 26, 2018
By Anna Medaris Miller

What Is PANDAS?

PANDAS stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections. The condition, which may affect anywhere from 1 in 200 to 1 in 500 kids (though the actual prevalence is unknown), is mostly characterized by obsessive compulsive disorder, tic disorders or both developing or worsening dramatically and suddenly after a bout with strep throat, or another type of strep infection, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Indeed, Pohlman's son had been struck with several bouts of strep throat not long before his behavior change.

"Your body is equipped with immune cells to fight infections and, in the case of strep [that leads to PANDAS], that immune system is fighting the strep infection then erroneously begins to attack other organs," explains Dritan Agalliu, an assistant professor of pathology and cell biology in neurology and pharmacology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. [read more]