P.A.N.D.A.S. – What’s Happening to My Child?

P.A.N.D.A.S. – What’s Happening to My Child?

P.A.N.D.A.S. – What’s Happening to My Child? 1920 1280 Gary Ruelas, D.O., Ph.D.

There are those occasions, where we don’t understand what or why something is happening. At the time, we may be in shock, i.e. life following a motor vehicle accident, or confused, such a disruption in our day to day life, or concerned, and at time very concerned when a loved one of ours who is going through a difficult period. And when it involves our family, and more specifically our children, our fears can become haunting.

When our child (whom we have known since birth) begins to change and may be in a decline, we worry, our fears may emerge into a panic and when the decline continues and becomes worse, we seek help. In most cases we find remedy, however there are those occasions, when this journey of searching for answers become our life. We are now on a path of discovery, and we know our “CHILD IS NOT CRAZY. But we cant seem to arrive at any understanding about what may be happening.”

So What May Have Happened

P.A.N.D.A.S. is short for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. This diagnosis may be when:

  • The child may begin to show obsessive compulsive behaviors and/or tics may suddenly appear following an infection (such as strep throat or scarlet fever); or
  • The child’s symptoms of obsessive compulsive behaviors or tic symptoms suddenly become worse following a strep infection.

These symptoms can become dramatic, they at times happen suddenly and rapidly, and can include motor and/or vocal tics, obsessions, and/or compulsions. In addition to these symptoms, children may also become moody or irritable, they could experience anxiety attacks, or show concerns about separating from parents or loved ones.

What Causes P.A.N.D.A.S.?

It has been reported that strep bacteria are very ancient organisms that survive in the human host by hiding from the immune system as long as possible. It can hide itself by putting molecules on its cell wall so that it looks nearly identical to molecules found on the child’s heart, joints, skin, and brain tissues. This form of hiding is called “molecular mimicry” and allows the strep bacteria to evade detection for a long time.

However, the molecules on the strep bacteria are eventually recognized as foreign to the body and the child’s immune system reacts to them by producing antibodies. Because of the molecular mimicry by the bacteria, the immune system reacts not only to the strep molecules, but also to the human host molecules that were mimicked; antibodies system “attack” the mimicked molecules in the child’s own tissues.

Studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and elsewhere have shown that some cross-reactive “anti-brain” antibodies target the brain—causing OCD, tics, and the other neuropsychiatric symptoms of P.A.N.D.A.S.

What To Do

If you have concern or questions or know of someone who may, you can call or visit pandasnetwork.org – the P.A.N.D.A.S. network is dedicated to improving the diagnosis and treatment of children with P.A.N.D.A.S.

You may also contact us here at the Integrative Medical Institute for information or consultation regarding your child and or family regarding P.A.N.D.A.S.


Gary Ruelas, D.O., Ph.D.

Dr. Ruelas holds doctoral degrees and is licensed to practice in both medicine and psychology. He approaches his patients by gathering and analyzing data differently from other physician’s moving away from a disease model to a holistic functional model. Read Bio

All articles by : Gary Ruelas, D.O., Ph.D.