Childhood Anorexia and P.A.N.D.A.S. – A Missing Link?
March 24, 2015 by Amy Leigh Mercree
Filed under Activism, Activism, ADHD, Advocacy, Anorexia, Anxiety, Body Dysmorphia, Body Image, Depression, Disordered Eating, Eating Disorders, Featured, Males with Eating Disorders, Media Literacy, Mental Health, OCD, Parents, Prevention, Recovery, Self-Harm, Suicide, Talking To Kids, Treatment, Volunteering
New evidence suggests some cases of childhood anorexia nervosa may be caused by a treatable syndrome called PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections).
When I started researching PANDAS I came upon hundreds of stories of healing. Some were heartbreaking to read and learn what the children and families went through. But most end with a resolution to the diverse symptoms possible. What I found was that awareness is critical. Early treatment can prevent severe occurrences. And we all need to know about the illness. Tell your friends. Share information. Knowledge is the first step in helping these children and families. If you have children, share this information with their teachers and doctors. Help to get the word out and support research.
PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) happens because a strep infection causes a misdirected immune response and creates inflammation of parts of a child’s brain, especially the basal ganglia. It is estimated that PANDAS affects 1 in 200 children. Most children are so far reported to be between ages four and seven. However, as more research is done we may discover that other children are affected.
PANDAS is also sometimes referred to as PANS. Some children have moderate symptoms and some are debilitatingly severe.
Here is a list of possible symptoms:
-fear of vomiting or weight gain
OCD (OBSESSIVE/COMPULSIVE DISORDER)
-uncontrollable crying or laughing (neurological symptom)
IRRITABILITY AND AGGRESSION
DETERIORATION IN SCHOOL PERFORMANCE
-deterioration in math skills
-inability to concentrate
-difficulty retaining information
CHANGES IN HANDWRITING
-clothing challenges (an example is socks feel too rough)
SEVERE SEPARATION ANXIETY
FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE
Anorexia and PANDAS
Many cases are reported of severe anorexia in children with PANDAS. Sometimes that is the primary symptom. Since I am not a doctor I have compiled a preliminary list of reference links below that you can use to start researching. If you know a child who has experienced sudden onset anorexia it is worth looking at the data and talking to health professionals to rule out PANDAS. In children with PANDAS induced anorexia, antibiotics often resolve the symptoms.
Basic PANDAS info:
More clinical info on PANDAS:
Excellent clinical info on Infection Triggered Anorexia:
NPR article about families dealing with PANDAS including two adolescent girls with Infection Triggered Anorexia:
Two detailed case histories of a 7 year old and 8 year old with PANDAS including Infection Triggered Anorexia:
More info and case studies:
OCD website with resources:
Foods Matter Site:
Video on PANDAS:
PANDAS Network Youtube channel: