The number of children and adolescents impacted by chronic and complex neuropsychiatric conditions has skyrocketed. Movement, behavioral, developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders affect millions worldwide. A growing body of research focuses on identifying possible causes behind such disorders with recent studies exploring the relationship between infections, autoimmunity and neurologic and psychiatric illnesses.
Recent studies indicate that in a subset of children and adolescents, neuropsychiatric symptoms may be due, not to a primary psychiatric disorder, but to an infection-triggered autoimmune reaction, which triggers an onset of neurologic and/or psychiatric symptoms including obsessive-compulsive behaviors (OCD), tics, eating disorders (anorexia), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and sleep disturbances, along with others.
Children Diagnosed With Neuropsychiatric Disorders Are On The Rise
The number of children diagnosed with neuropsychiatric disorders has been steadily rising over the past decade. ADHD and mood disorders, including anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, are the most commonly diagnosed mental health illnesses among children.
These children are typically diagnosed with a chronic mental health condition such as OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental and Behavioral Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome or another neuropsychiatric disease. Their illness can greatly impair daily functioning and can have enormous physical, social, emotional and financial consequences to both the child and their family.
In the United States, 6.4 million children have received an ADHD diagnosis; 50% of all children with the disorder are diagnosed by age 6. Meanwhile, one million children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder ¹ and 500,000 children are living in the U.S. with OCD. ²
Identifying the underlying cause of these symptoms is imperative and answering the following question could change the course of treatment: ‘Could an infection be causing my child’s symptoms?’ Children may be misdiagnosed with a primary psychiatric disorder and receive psychotropic medications to treat the symptoms. But if the symptoms are due to an infection-triggered autoimmune response, the root cause of the behaviors must be addressed. Treatment must include eradicating the infection (if possible) and addressing the immune dysfunction.
The Cunningham Panel™ – The Only Test Of Its Kind
The Cunningham Panel™ is the first and only test of its kind which assists physicians in determining the likelihood that a child’s neuropsychiatric symptoms are due to a treatable infection-triggered autoimmune response rather than a primary psychiatric disease. The Panel consists of 5 tests which measure circulating levels of autoantibodies directed against specific neuronal antigens in the patient including: Dopamine D1 Receptor (DRD1), Dopamine D2L Receptor (DRD2L), Lysoganglioside – GM1 and Tubulin. The 5th assay targets CaM Kinase II, a key enzyme involved in the up regulation of many neurotransmitters (dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine).
¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2012 Report
² International OCD Foundation