MAPS Spring Conference — Explore More about PANS & PANDAS

MAPS Spring Conference 2018, designed with the purpose of educating pediatricians, is going to decipher modern medical science’s take on Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection (PANDAS). This year, Dr. Susan Swedo, MD (National Institute of Health), will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Madeleine Cunningham, PHD ( University of Oklahoma Health & Sciences), Tanya Murphy, MD (University of Southern Florida Rothmans Center for Pediatric Neurodiversity), will join Dr. Swedo. They all will be talking about the latest advancements associated with PANS or PANDAS.

This article seeks to prepare a ground for the upcoming MAPS Spring Conference. Before delving into the details, it is important to gain a clear insight into the basic ideas about PANS and PANDAS.


PANS or Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome is a disorder marked by a set of abrupt onset of obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCD). Dr. Susan Swedo is the person who introduced PANS for the first time in the year 2012 (Swedo et al, 2012). PANDAS is considered as a subset of PANS. It is regarded as an autoimmune condition caused by strep infections. This kind of infection can affect the normal neurological activity of a kid.

Molecular Mimicry

Autoimmune responses, triggered by infections, have been called “molecular mimicry”. This is common in both PANS and PANDAS. There are some infectious agents that resemble the structures of some of the normal body tissues. Therefore, our immune system sometimes mistakes the normal tissues for these infectious agents and attacks the tissues instead of the harmful elements. For instance, rheumatic fever is a kind of molecular mimicry where the immune system attacks the heart valves, in some cases, while a strep infection is working behind the fever. In the case of PANS and PANDAS, it seems to be that something similar takes place that makes the antibodies attack a certain portion of brain, Basal Ganglia, which controls our movement and behavior to a great extent.

Misdiagnosed Issues

Often, symptoms of PANS and PANDAS are mistaken for psychiatric illness. In such a case, the patient is treated with the psychotropic drugs which, of course, cannot help the patients cope up with the symptoms related to PANS or PANDAS. Let’s have a look at the symptoms of PANS/PANDAS that can help the doctors identify the problem at an initial level.


  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder shows a lot of symptoms related to various kinds of obsessions, such as worrying too much about germs, getting ill, dying; fear of bad things; obsessiveness with perfection; disturbing thoughts of hurting loved ones etc.

  • Selective Eating

Restrictive eating can be an outcome of many health issues, PANS is one of them. It can occur due to contamination fear, fear of vomiting, difficulties in swallowing etc.

  • Emotional Changes

Emotional changes due to PANS may include lack of control over one’s emotional responses, uncontrollable laughing or crying.

  • Sensory Sensitivities

Sensory sensitivities may include sensitivity to touch, sound, and noise. Sometimes, the sufferers even may find the simple touches painful. Sensory processing issues can create difficulties in finding an item in the midst of a number of similar items.

  • Other Symptoms

Other symptoms may include anxiety, depression, irritability and aggression, behavioral regression, hyperactivity etc.

Experts’ Take on PANS/PANDAS

According to Dr. Susan Swedo, most of the children conceal the symptoms unless the difficulties become unbearable to them. Another expert, Dr. Madeleine Cunningham has stated that the body can generate overactive antibodies that may target the brain cells. Dr. Tanya Murphy has revealed the advantages of antibiotic treatments. This is not the end. Experts are still working on PANS/PANDAS to invent new treatments and improve the existing ones.

In Conclusion

This article contains only a basic introduction to PANS/PANDAS. To learn in detail, one must attend the upcoming MAPS Spring Conference 2018 where these three stalwarts will be delivering lecture on PANS/PANDAS to guide the pediatricians in the right way.