PANDAS & PANS – Autoimmune Disorders in Children

A group of diverse children.


What is PANDAS?

PANDAS is short for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. It occurs in children and adolescents who show sudden – sometimes overnight – obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms and/or tic disorders that are linked to a strep infection, such as strep throat and scarlet fever.

Symptoms of PANDAS

The symptoms of PANDAS can include:

  • Motor or vocal tics or both
  • Obsessions, compulsions, or both

In addition, other symptoms may include:

  • Restrictive eating
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Separation anxiety (i.e. child is clingy.)
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in motor skills, such as changes in handwriting
  • Hyperactivity

What is PANS?

PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. This medical condition describes acute OCD symptoms or restricted food intake along with other psychiatric or neurologic symptoms in children.

Unlike PANDAS, PANS is not limited to children with strep infections, but it is associated with a variety of different infections such as the flu, chicken pox, mycoplasma and Lyme disease. Both conditions, however, can cause a range of behavioral disturbances and neurologic problems.

Symptoms of PANS

Children with PANS have severe symptoms of OCD. Other symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Bedwetting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decrease in school performance