Childhood Post-Infectious Autoimmune Encephalopathy

PANDA/PANSWhen a sudden, unexplainable change occurs in your child’s health, an accurate diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference. This is especially true in the case of autoimmune disorders known as PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome) or a subset of PANS that is associated with strep infection known as PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections).

PANS is a clinical diagnosis given to children who very suddenly develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), severely restricted food intake, or both following an infection, such as strep throat or a virus. The changes are usually dramatic and happen “overnight and out of the blue.” In addition to these symptoms, children may suddenly become moody or irritable, experience anxiety attacks, show concerns about separating from parents or loved ones, develop memory problems, become restless and fidgety or have sleep disturbances and urinary accidents.

PANS/PANDAS is considered a pediatric disorder occurring between three years old and puberty. Reactions to common infections are infrequent after age 12, but researchers recognize that PANS/PANDAS could occur, though rarely, among adolescents and adults. At this time there is no single test to confirm whether your child has PANS/PANDAS, and not all doctors are experienced in treating these conditions. Diagnosing PANS/PANDAS is complex and requires multiple disciplines, including child psychiatry, pediatric neurology, developmental pediatrics, and pediatric immunology.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences-Arkansas Children’s Hospital (UAMS-ACH) Childhood Post-Infectious Autoimmune Encephalopathy (CPAE) clinic specializes in diagnosis and treatment of PANS/PANDAS. The CPAE clinic is led by Dr. Veronica Raney, M.D., a pediatric psychiatrist, and Dr. Aravindhan Veerapandiyan, M.D., a pediatric neurologist.

The UAMS-ACH CPAE clinic is a part of the PACE Foundation consortium, joining the University of Arizona, University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University, and the University of Wisconsin. The UAMS-ACH CPAE clinic sees patients from multiple states and, when possible, patients from outside the United States. The PACE Foundation will foster collaborative research, outreach to child health-care providers and evidenced-based treatment.

For more information, contact the Psychiatric Research Institute at PRI@uams.edu.

The UAMS-ACH CPAE clinic is currently accepting referrals for child, adolescent and adult patients with suspected PANS/PANDAS. For children, adolescents, and young adults less than 21 years old, contact the UAMS-AC CPAE Clinic by calling (501) 364-3416 or by e-mail at cpaeclinic@uams.edu or ask your PCP to fax a referral to (501) 686-5975.