Dr. Oz asks, “Can strep throat trigger your child’s OCD?”
Millions of kids get strep each year, but only a few of them will develop nervous tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior soon after.
The Dr. OZ Show features Lauren, a teenager who thought she just had a seasonal cold when she was younger. She was experiencing the classical cold symptoms such as coughing and sneezing and hoped with in time, the cold would go away. However, she soon found out that this “cold” had no plans of leaving and instead gave her severe anxiety. Weeks into the symptoms, doctors began to think she was just crying out for attention and exaggerating her symptoms. However, when Lauren made national news for her symptoms, she was recommended to a doctor that diagnosed her with PANDAS.
PANDAS, (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal) is a rare disorder brought on by strep throat, walking pneumonia, and Lyme disease. The symptoms are a host of psychiatric behaviors including obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, tics, neurological conditions, sleep disturbances and restrictive food intake.
“The theory behind PANDAS is that the strep bacteria “hides” from the immune system by mimicking the child’s own cells and then attacks the brain,” said Psychiatrist Gail Saltz. According to the CDC, nearly 2 million children could be affected by some of the symptoms of this disorder. As a relatively newly identified disorder, PANDAS is not yet well understood – sometimes not recognized at all – by frontline physicians.
The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology (JCAP) released a consensus statement which included a consortium of more than 30 physicians and researchers on the issue of PANDAS. This consensus statement, along with other newly published research papers, provide “a watershed moment in our thinking about PANS,” according to Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., editor-in-chief of JCAP and president of the Child Mind Institute in New York.
Children are often misdiagnosed and symptoms escalate with a lifetime of physical and psychological trauma. A simple course of antibiotics can stop symptoms of this disorder.
Many other questions remain unanswered—but experts agree that parents should be on the lookout for signs of strep and get it investigated as soon as possible.
Watch Lauren’s story on The Dr. Oz show.