Do Germs Trigger Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

A recent study found that strep infection doubled the chances of developing OCD or similar disorders.

Saturday October 1st - 12:00am

Strep throat isn't the only medical problem that can be caused by the streptococcus bacteria. A recent study led by a researcher at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle seems to confirm what some doctors have long suspected - that strep bacteria can also cause kids to develop obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome, and tic disorder. This phenomenon is known as PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections).

The study, published in the July 2005 issue of Pediatrics, found that strep infection doubled the chances of developing one of these disorders. Multiple strep infections within a 12-month period tripled the chances. Researchers theorize that antibodies that the body creates to fight the bacteria also attack brain cells.

Strep infections can be treated with antibiotics. Experts say it is possible that aggressive treatment to prevent recurrence of infection in children may help prevent development of OCD or similar disorders. More research is needed.

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