For all the new parents or grandparents out there, you might want to be aware of the acronym, PANDAS. Until recently when I heard the word pandas I thought of two or more bears that originated from China and ate bamboo. That is no longer the case, now when I hear the word PANDAS I flash to a young child who has had her eyes rolled back into her head and shuddering. The reason for writing this blog is my 18-month-old niece and her family were told recently that she more than likely suffers from this.  

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus. You can find it under the rare diseases tab on the National Institutes of Health website. The cause of this disease is still relatively unknown, but scientists and doctors think it originates from a Strep Infection, Strep Throat or Scarlett Fever are the two most commonly thought of originators of PANDAS in kids.

Following a strep infection, kids affected by PANDAS typically experience a sudden onset of motor or vocal tics; obsessions; and/or compulsions. With these severe symptoms typically lasting anywhere from several weeks to several months. Basically what happens is the infection attacks the brain in the area of fine motor skills.

It's scary. Having someone so little and so vulnerable go through something like this and knowing she has no way to verbally tell us what's happening, or where it hurts. It makes you wonder why life can be so cruel that it would give a child some disease like this.

As far as treatments go the NIH listed them as symptomatic. Children who are diagnosed with the staph infection are typically treated with antibiotics whether or not they develop any symptoms of PANDAS. The Obsessive-compulsive disorders are usually managed with medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.

There is a network online that has more information about the disease and treatments, if you want to know more you can head here.