Each month The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute spotlights a different developmental disability to help build awareness and educate others about the disorder. Learn more below.
What is PANS?
PANS is a clinical diagnosis given to a child who has a dramatic onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms including, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and/or an eating disorder. They may also have sudden and severe anxiety, mood swings, irritability, or uncontrollable movements. School performance may suffer and some kids have sleep problems or a sudden case of bedwetting.
How do children get PANS?
It’s unclear why these symptoms happen but one theory is that an infection may have led to the development of antibodies that- besides attacking the germs- mistakenly target an area of the brain that controls behavior. In the past this was called PANDAS because doctors thought that these symptoms were brought on by a streptococcus infection, like strep throat. Researchers are now finding that symptoms can be triggered by other infections such as the flu, chickenpox, mycoplasma, and Lyme disease.
Is PANS Contagious?
No, PANS isn’t contagious, so you don’t have to worry about your child catching it from a classmate. Almost all school-age kids get infections and almost all recover with no complications. Also, most kids who have OCD did not get it as a result of PANS.
What should I do if I think my child has PANS?
Parents who see abrupt and striking changes in their children's behavior should understand that there may be a bacterial or other organic cause behind them and enlist their pediatrician's help in trying to determine its genesis.
What is the prognosis for a child with PANS?
For children who are diagnosed early and a cause has been identified, the prognosis is good. Some patients do very well when treated and are back to 100 percent normal function. For those in whom the cause is unknown and who don’t respond as well to antibiotics, they need to continue to work with their doctors to address the illnesses