I’d never heard specifically about P.A.N.D.A.S. (an annoyingly cute acronym for Psychiatric and Neurologic Disorders Associated with Strep) until Adrienne Ehlert Bashista posted this article from Psychology Today on the Easy to Love But Hard to Raise Facebook page.
The article suggests that infections by bacteria of the Streptococcus family may initiate or exacerbate predispositions for many disorders that we currently understand poorly, including Tourette’s syndrome, tic disorders, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, and anorexia nervosa. Possible connections to lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis are also being studied.
As often seems to occur, researchers in other countries have been trying to establish links for over a decade and the information is now trickling in to the U.S. medical community, however slowly.
When I see this type of new-to-me medical information, I pay attention. It was only four years ago that my children were diagnosed with a poorly understood metabolic disorder, pyroluria, a disease that our pediatrician had never heard of. If I hadn’t read about it in a valuable niche book (Aspergers Syndrome: Natural Steps Toward a Better Life for You and Your Child by Suzanne Lawton) we might still be searching aimlessly for a diagnosis and treatment for my children.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if P.A.N.D.A.S is the culprit (or aggravator) in so many misunderstood disorders? Time will only tell. But as a mom who has been there (knowing something isn’t right, but the medical explanation isn’t obvious), I know that educating myself and working closely with our physicians and naturopaths as an equal part of the team has been hugely successful for my family.
Many people feel overwhelmed by medical information and when they turn to their doctors, they want immediate answers and perfection. But our physicians and naturopaths are human, they can’t know everything, and it takes a while for new discoveries and breakthroughs to make their way to the trenches of small-town medical care, especially if the info is being blocked for political reasons and/or ego as suggested in the article.
Our pediatrician admitted he’d never heard of pyroluria when I brought it to him as a possible diagnosis for my children, but he was willing to educate himself, order the tests, and locate a lab that would conduct them. He was supportive when the tests came back positive and encouraged our connection with our naturopath to help manage their vitamin therapy treatment. But even with their help, I still consider myself ultimately responsible for managing my childrens medical care.
Since our race learned to kill bacterial infections with antibiotics in the 1950′s , those little bugs have lost their umph in our minds, but they’re still here, evolving faster and smarter than us, and finding new ways to control our machinery. Watching the new movie, Contagion, last night, about a new deadly virus that kills millions in a matter of days, reminds me how much stealth power these “invisible bugs” still command.
Let’s hope this article is right, that there is a connection between P.A.N.D.A.S. and many debilitating medical disorders, so that we can better understand them and use this knowledge in their treatment and management. I, for one, will be following new developments with this family of bacteria and the work of Dr. Jory F. Goodman, who wrote the article.
P.A.N.D.A.S. brings to mind a number of disorders that we have recently discovered are caused by a simple culprit, such as cleft pallate and folic acid deficiency. Can you recall a recent disorder found to be caused by a simple bug?
Let’s hope that someday soon we hear of P.A.N.D.A.S. and think, “Wow, that’s so obvious. Why didn’t we think of it sooner?”