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Childhood OCD and PANDAS

This week the IOCDF (International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation) released a public service announcement by Dr. Michael Jenike, Chair of the IOCDF Scientific Advisory Board alerting parents and health practitioners that mental illnesses such as childhood OCD can be triggered by infections in children. The article, from MSNBC/Today, goes on to say that any child with a sudden onset of symptoms and sudden change in personality should immediately have their child tested for strep. This is a giant leap forward for families currently dealing with the diagnoses of childhood OCD as well as other diagnoses such as Tourettes Syndrome, childhood anxiety and ADHD?
Childhood OCD can be a debilitating condition for children and their families. Common childhood OCD signs include excessive handwashing, checking doors or touching. These obsessions and compulsions come in different forms also. Joshua seemed to go through phases which included sniffing things, only eating/drinking certain foods and at certain temperatures and very specific routines at bedtime and upon awakening that could not be broken.
After several news interviews and a newspaper article, the support group in St. Louis is aware of 27 confirmed cases of PANDAS with successful treatments, including IVIG, undertaken mostly outside of St. Louis. That does not include the handful of families currently looking for help and/or a diagnosis. I have spoken with the executive director of the PANDAS Resource Network in California and they are planning some marketing activities to increase awareness about PANDAS. There are a handful (less than 5) doctors willing to help this growing number of children battle this disorder and next week, we will be making some phone calls to see if we can’t get those wonderful, compassionate physicians to help us work out a plan here for families. It only takes a few.

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