PANDAS, PROBIOTICS PROBLEMS AND AUTISM
One phenomenon that I have seen with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum–some kids aren’t necessarily classically diagnosed with Autism but who have the characteristics of something called PANDAS–is a condition in the body that is triggered by a streptococcal infection, specifically Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep. In this case, individuals develop obsessive compulsive behavior, sometimes tics, behavioral issues, weird or odd movements of the head or the eyes, side glancing, or different manifestations that usually come about after an infection, sometimes a sore throat. It can be a marked change in their behavior, social anxiety, anxiety in general and as mentioned before very, very severe forms of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Now there are certain individuals on the Autism spectrum who have this characteristic and there are also other people who develop obsessive compulsive behavior and tics etc, who also have PANDAS but are not Autistic. One of the things that is interesting is in many of the supplements that people take, specifically probiotics, there is a specific bacteria called streptococcus thermophilus that is a natural bacteria and is essentially listed as a beneficial bacterial for the digestive system and for our overall health. You also find it in some yogurt products as well. It’s reported that streptococcus thermophilus is entirely different than Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep as far as its protein structure and therefore should not be a contributing problem to the obsessive compulsive problems or the other manifestation of PANDAS. The problem is that has not always proved to be true. This basically means in many kids, whether they are on the Autism spectrum or not, just don’t seem to react very well to probiotics that have streptococcus thermophilus.
If you have a suspicion that your child has PANDAS or is likely a problem, check their probiotics. See if the probiotics that they are taking have streptococcus thermophilus. If it does, consider changing to a different probiotic. It doesn’t always fit, but often times it does.
I had a situation a couple of years ago where a patient who had PANDAS was successfully treated for it and was essentially in remission started a group of new supplements, and all of a sudden, started coming down with those PANDAS conditions again. Anxiety, tics, obsessive behavior. The parent didn’t realize that the streptococcus thermophilus was an issue until we recognized that that was likely a contributing factor. Just stopping that one supplement alone, his PANDAS symptoms, his OCD, his anxiety disappeared. I have seen that happen now with other kids and other people as well. So it is one of the things that I look at clinically is if streptococcus thermophilus is being used in a supplement, that is one thing I look to remove.
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