LA Times Discusses PANDAS


“I used to think it was exceedingly rare…Now I think it’s exceedingly common.”

Dr. Michael A. Jenike


The LA Times discusses PANDAS in the article Childhood disorder prompts study of infection link to mental illness!’s Scientific Advisory Board Member, Dr. Margo Thienemann and parent, Diana Pohlman were interviewed. The article has some good areas of explanation, but focuses on the OCD aspect of PANDAS and poorly explains the catastrophic nature of its accompanying symptoms. For that reason, we would like to reinforce that other symptoms can present in a child with PANDAS. As cited in Dr. Swedo’s landmark paper, the following examples of symptoms (along with their prevalence) may occur during a PANDAS exacerbation in addition to OCD:

Symptoms During Exacerbations:

Choreiform Movements 95%
Emotional Lability 66%
School Changes 60%
Personality Changes 54%
Bedtime fears 50%
Fidgetness 50%
Separation fears 46%
Sensory Defensiveness 40%
Irritability 40%
Impulsivity/distraction 38%
Deterioration of handwriting 36%
Deterioration of math skills 26%

Overall, Shari Roan and participants attempt to explain the various aspects of PANDAS, including personal stories, citing research pertaining to the disorder, and explaining why the connection to infection and the onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms may be hard to pinpoint and determine.

The article states…

PANDAS is generally poorly understood in the medical field, said Dr. Margo Thienemann, a Palo Alto child psychiatrist who has treated several cases. There is no test to help doctors diagnose it, although the National Institute of Mental Health says that PANDAS can be identified after two or three episodes of OCD or tics that occur in conjunction with strep infection — a vague guideline that results in much confusion.

Thienemann says patients tend to fall between the cracks of psychiatry and immunology. But early diagnosis is important.

“In psychiatry, we generally spend our time treating diseases without knowing the reason they happen,” she says. “With PANDAS we are able to see the cause of a problem rather than the downstream effects. This is the exciting part.”


To read the full article, please visit Childhood disorder prompts study of infection link to mental illness.




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