PLEASANT HILL, Iowa – We’re hearing more about an autoimmune disorder as parents share how PANDAS and PANS changed their children overnight.
stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal
infections. PANS stands for pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome.
symptoms come on suddenly and can often be misdiagnosed as a mental illness and
prescribed medication for that.
Isabella Noble is in sixth grade and deals with a debilitating disorder that came on suddenly. “I was always a happy girl, never really sad, and then just overnight I became really sad.”
Mom Jodi Noble added, “She started
acting completely different, had irrational fears. She was afraid someone was
going to break into the house and kill us all.”
Isabella was diagnosed with PANDAS and
PANS five years ago after visiting her pediatrician. “He looked at her and
looked at her eyes. He said I just have to rule something out, and thank
goodness he did that because he referred us on to a specialist,” said
She’s been on antibiotics most of the time since. “She was taken off of it probably about five weeks and got strep right away and symptoms came back,” said Jodi.
This summer, her 8-year-old sister Emilie suddenly changed, too. “All of a sudden I just started feeling depressed. I thought all these sad thoughts, like why was I even alive and all I do is cry,” said Emilie.
Her mom also noticed obsessive compulsive
symptoms similar to what her sister experienced and pushed for the doctor to
consider PANDAS and PANS. Jodi said, “The
parents are really the advocates here. We have a PANDAS Iowa network and a
national network, and that is where we are learning so much, saying go to these
doctors, have them order these tests. We’re the ones kind of guiding the way.”
Nearly 200 people are members of the
online Iowa PANDAS Support Group. Members raised $5,000 to provide education
materials for educators and school nurses and continuing education resources
They are also working on a bill with lawmakers to get an expensive treatment called IVIG covered by insurance. “It ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 to $20,000,” said Jenna Nelson, with Iowa PANDAS Support Group.
“The IVIG helps train their body in
order to learn how to fight. It trains their immune system to respond
appropriately compared to how it’s responding right now, which it’s not really
responding correctly,” she said.
The Noble sisters are back to feeling
more like themselves now and hope sharing their story will help others. “It’s
easier to talk about PANDAS now because I’ve been through it,” said
Senate Bill SF2301, which would mandate insurance coverage for PANDAS and PANS, made it through the Human Resource Committee. It is now set to be brought up in the Senate, possibly this week.
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