Psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli joins The Doctors to answer the question, "Can a child develop OCD after having strep throat?" Surprisingly, Dr. Sportelli says “Yes.” This occurrence is referred to as PANDAS. Dr. Sportelli says this acronym stands for “Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome Associated with Strep.”
Parents or caregivers will start to notice that their child suddenly shows symptoms of OCD which can include obsessions, compulsions, anxieties and ticks similar to what someone with Tourette’s Syndrome will have. Unlike most cases of OCD which are chronic and come on gradually, these symptoms come on immediately and will go away when the strep infection does.
The reason this occurs is because the body will make antibodies to attack the foreign invader, the strep infection, but the antibodies actually end up attacking cells of the body in the brain. The brain will experience mild inflammation which causes these OCD symptoms.
Dr. Sportelli says this is not super common but if you notice the symptoms, bring your child to their pediatric provider.