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Strep infection sets off tics in some kids

Some children develop motor or vocal tics, obsessions, compulsions, or combinations of these symptoms shortly after a streptococcal infection, such as strep throat. Researchers call such cases PANDAS, an acronym for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections.

In the first study of its kind, scientists have found elevated rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic ailments, including Tourette's disorder, in the parents and siblings of children with PANDAS. These results support the theory that some families carry a genetic susceptibility to OCD and tic disorders that gets activated by childhood strep infection, according to a team led by social worker Lorraine Lougee and psychiatrist Susan E. Swedo, both of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Md.

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