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Can penicillin be used to treat PANDAS?

Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrics
The symptoms of PANDAS seem to be caused by antibodies, so penicillin does not cure PANDAS. However if you treat the infection, you may affect the amount of antibodies. The idea is that the fewer the antibodies, the fewer the symptoms. While this is still a controversial diagnosis and equally controversial decision on treatment, the most accepted treatment is three weeks of Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate).
Lynne Kenney
Psychology
Penicillin and other antibiotics kill streptococcus and other types of bacteria. The antibiotics treat the sore throat or pharyngitis caused by the strep. by getting rid of the bacteria. However, in PANDAS, it appears that antibodies produced by the body in response to the strep infection are the cause of the problem, not the bacteria themselves. Therefore one could not expect antibiotics such as penicillin to treat the symptoms of PANDAS. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have been investigating the use of antibiotics as a form of prophylaxis or prevention of future problems. At this time, however, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend the long-term use of antibiotics.

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