What is PANDAS?
Hi guys. Dr. Eeks here. I wanted to write a little about one of my latest Causes or Cures podcast episodes.
PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. So, no, I’m not talking about the cute bears we all love.
The fist time I heard about PANDAS was from a parent who learned that her child had it. When she told me that PANDAS was causing her child’s psychiatric symptoms, my first question was, “What is Pandas?” I never learned about it in medical school, and I’m told that, even now, most medical schools don’t teach it. It remains a controversial topic, and a lot of doctors don’t know anything about it. It’s mostly parents of kids with PANDAS who are raising awareness about it and pushing for more research.
In this episode of Causes or Cures, I was lucky to have a great conversation with Dr. Steven Hyman about PANDAS. In short, a child with PANDAS might have a Strep throat infection and then develop psychiatric symptoms soon after. Because PANDAS happens in kids and kids get a lot of Strep throat infections, I think every parent should be aware of this topic. Many aren’t, mostly because the majority of the medical community doesn’t know much or talk much about it.
Dr. Hyman will discuss what PANDAS is, why it’s considered controversial, what the medical community thinks about it and their approach, research shortcomings, how potential patients with PANDAS are treated and how that treatment is different than conventional psychiatric treatment, as well as prognosis and outcomes. It makes me wonder…how many kids were prescribed psychiatric medication for something caused by a bacteria?
Dr. Hyman also talks about the broader implications of PANDAS, which is a bacterial or viral infection being the cause of psychiatric symptoms and disorders in both adults and kids, and what that means for the future of the field. Honestly, we see it with COVID-19 right now: There are many people who recover from COVID-19 but have long-lasting psychiatric symptoms. What other viruses can do that?
Who is Dr. Hyman?
Dr. Hyman is a trained psychiatrist and director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is a graduate of Yale and Harvard Medical School and previously served as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. He is currently the president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, past president of the Society for Neuroscience and founding president of the International Neuroethics Society.
I hope you guys listen. If you are a parent of a young child, please listen, and share it with other parents of young children.
Listen to the podcast here.
Eeks ( Erin Stair, MD, MPH)
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