Grace Harper’s parents would have always described their daughter as a happy, loving young girl.
But, practically overnight, their once happy daughter began having brutal outbursts. These continued for nearly two years, and doctors couldn’t figure out the cause, but it turned out Grace’s behavior was the result of a very rare disease that is caused by strep infections.
The disease is called PANDAS, and its symptoms often lead to the misdiagnosis of mental problems.
PANDAS is short for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus. After a child is infected with strep, their body produces antibodies to attack and kill the infection.
If a child is suffering from PANDAS, the antibodies instead attack a part of the brain that controls their behavior.
For so long, doctors didn’t know much about the disease, but now, they are trying to raise more awareness. It’s even become the main topic in a documentary called, “My Child is Not Crazy.”
For Grace’s parents, it took two long years and endless doctors appointments to figure out what was wrong with their daughter, but sadly, her’s isn’t the only case. A 6-year-old girl named Madeline Greenstein also suffered from similar symptoms.
Her mom said she would cry hysterically over nothing and experienced high pitched laughing like something you would hear in a mental institution. Madeline’s symptoms also resulted from PANDAS.
Thankfully, since strep is the cause if this disease, it can be treated with antibiotics. Grace’s parents thought that their daughter’s behavior would set her back in school, but with the right treatment, she is now back to her normal self.
2 Years Of Torture
Their child, Grace, was an innovative and articulate kid. However then all of unexpected, relatively over night, she ended up being a “raving time bomb,” succumbing to upset outbursts totally unlike her.
” They might be 4 to 5 hours shrieking raves on the flooring kicking and shouting. She struck the medical professional when,” her mother, Amber, remembers. “She was absolutely exploding.”
The extreme modification came as a frightening shock.
It began with high fevers, which would appear approximately monthly. With each fever came odd, compulsive habits. For instance, Grace would end up being insistent on “arranging” her possessions. All of her crayons needed to go in a specific order in a particular area, as did her shoes and her toys and so on. Grace lost it when things weren’t arranged so.
” I arrange them since when they aren’t arranged, I get distressed,” little Grace described.
It took a painful 2 years of medical facility check outs and assessments with lots of physicians prior to they found out Grace’s signs originated from PANDAS. And her story is not distinct.
Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS) is a group of rare neuropsychiatric disorders that occur in children. The disease is caused by an autoimmune response to Group A streptococcus bacteria, which leads to inflammation and affects the brain. Symptoms of PANDAS can include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, anxiety, and depression. The disease is treated with antibiotics and immunotherapy. Research on the disease is ongoing.
The first known cases of PANDAS were described in 1998 by Dr. Susan Swedo and her team at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The group studied a group of around 200 children who developed OCD, tics, anxiety disorders, or symptoms similar to those of ADHD without any known cause. In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the team found that around half of the children had a recent history of strep throat infection.
Further research by the NIMH and other groups has found that PANDAS is a real disease and that it affects around 1 in 100,000 children. The disease can occur at any age, but is most common in children aged between 4 and 14. Most cases occur during the Age of Onset (the point at which the disease first occurs) by puberty. The NIMH notes that PANDAS isn’t a mental illness itself, but rather an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are illnesses in which the immune system attacks the body instead of protecting it.
Common symptoms of PANDAS are obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, anxiety, and depression. OCD is a set of common disorders that have in common the fact that the patient experiences intrusive thoughts or worries (obsessions) and feels driven to repetitively carry out activities or rituals, often according to a set of rules that must be applied rigidly (compulsions). OCD is usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Tics are sudden movements or sounds which can’t be stopped through will-power alone. They’re most common in those who have problems sleeping.
Tics commonly occur in children with PANDAS, and often disappear once the child is treated with antibiotics and immunotherapy. Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions which involve excessive fear or worry about everyday situations. Symptoms may include feeling restless or tense, experiencing difficulty sleeping, and avoiding social situations. Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and emptiness. The disorder can lead to suicide in some cases if treatment isn’t sought or isn’t effective.
There are other symptoms that may indicate PANDAS, though they aren’t always included in the list of criteria for the disease. These include bedwetting in children who have already stopped doing so, temper tantrums, eating disorders, and new onset of seizures.
The cause of PANDAS is an autoimmune response to Group A streptococcus bacteria, which leads to inflammation and affects the brain. This autoimmune response is what causes the symptoms of PANDAS. The bacteria can be found in the throat and on the skin, and it’s most commonly spread through coughing and sneezing. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, toys, or countertops.
The bacteria can also be spread through contact with the saliva of an infected person. Group A streptococcus is a common cause of strep throat, and it’s estimated that around 1 in 4 children will have a strep throat infection at some point during their childhood. PANDAS is thought to occur when the immune systemtops.