A child at my son's school was recently diagnosed with something called "PANS." What is this? – Winni PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. Researchers are only beginning to study and understand this syndrome, so there are a lot of unanswered questions about what it is and what causes it. What we do know is that kids with PANS have severe symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that come on very suddenly. They also may have sudden and severe anxiety, mood swings, irritability, or uncontrollable movements. School performance might suffer, and some kids have sleep problems or a sudden case of bedwetting. It's unclear why these symptoms happen. One theory is that an earlier infection may have led to the development of antibodies that — besides attacking the infecting germs — mistakenly targeted an area of the brain that controls behavior. In the past, some kids with these symptoms were diagnosed as having PANDAS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus). This name was given because it seemed that symptoms were brought on by a streptococcus infection, like strep throat. Now, however, researchers are finding that symptoms can be triggered by other infections (such as the flu, chickenpox, mycoplasma, and Lyme disease) or may be caused by something else entirely. Because of this, the new name "PANS" was coined to more accurately describe the syndrome (and put the focus on the symptoms, rather than the symptoms and cause). PANDAS, a term still widely in use, is now considered a type of PANS. PANS isn't contagious, so kids can't catch it from a classmate. If a contagious infection (like strep throat) triggered someone's PANS, that illness can be passed from one person to another. But in general, you don't have to worry about your child developing PANS. Almost all school-age kids get infections and almost all recover with no complications. Similarly, most kids who have OCD did not get it as a result of PANS. Scientists are studying PANS to better understand the possible link between infections, OCD, and other symptoms. Back to Articles Related Articles Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Someone might say you're obsessed with soccer or something else that you really like, but when someone has a true obsession, it isn't any fun. Find out more about obsessive-compulsive disorder in this article for kids. Read More Word! Strep Screen If you've ever gone to the doctor with a really sore throat, you may have had a strep screen. Read More Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Everyone feels anxiety, fear, or worry at some time - it's normal to worry about school, your friends, your appearance, and tons of other stuff. But for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these feelings are taken to extremes. Read More Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder All kids have worries and doubts. But some have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in which their worries compel them to behave in certain ways over and over again. OCD can get better with the right attention and care. Read More Getting a Strep Test (Video) The test for strep throat doesn't hurt, but it might make you gag a little. Watch how it's done in this video for kids. Read More Tourette Syndrome Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes tics -- movements or sounds that are repeated over and over. Learn more about Tourette syndrome in this article for kids. Read More Tourette Syndrome Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes uncontrolled sudden, repetitive muscle movements and sounds known as tics. Read More Tourette Syndrome Tourette syndrome affects the body's brain and nervous system by causing tics - repeated, uncontrollable movements or involuntary vocal sounds. Read More Tics A tic is a sudden, repetitive movement or sound that some people make, which can be difficult to control. Read More Strep Throat Strep throat is a common cause of sore throat in kids and teens. It usually requires treatment with antibiotics, but improves in a few days. Read More Scarlet Fever Scarlet fever is an illness caused by a strep infection. It causes a red, bumpy rash that spreads over most of the body, and is treated with antibiotics. Read More Strep Throat Strep throat is a common infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. Find out how to recognize the signs of strep throat and what to expect if you have it. Read More Strep Throat Strep throat gives you a sore throat and makes it hard to swallow. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.