Tag: blood-brain barrier

Do Vaccines Cause PANDAS?

PANDAS, first described in 1998, is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

Kids with PANDAS can have tics and/or OCD that come on suddenly or get worse after they get a strep infection. Specifically, a group A streptococcal infection, like strep throat.

These kids might also be moody and irritable, develop problems at school, have trouble sleeping, and have anxiety, including separation anxiety.

What Causes PANDAS?

Like other post-strep complications, PANDAS is thought to be an auto-immune disorder that occurs when a child’s immune system targets the strep bacteria, but also cross-reacts with molecules that strep uses to hide in our body.

“However, the molecules on the strep bacteria are eventually recognized as foreign to the body and the child’s immune system reacts to them by producing antibodies. Because of the molecular mimicry by the bacteria, the immune system reacts not only to the strep molecules, but also to the human host molecules that were mimicked; antibodies system “attack” the mimicked molecules in the child’s own tissues.”

PANDAS—Questions and Answers

If antibodies to mimicked molecules target a child’s brain tissue, then you can get the neuropsychiatric symptoms of PANDAS, including tics and OCD.

Does it sound a little unbelievable?

Do you know what causes rheumatic fever, besides an untreated group A streptococcal infection? It is an auto-immune disorder that occurs when the antibodies that are produced after a strep infection attack your joints and heart, including the valves of your heart.

Similarly, if the antibodies attack your kidney, you can develop post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Do Vaccines Cause PANDAS?

PANDAS is caused by a strep infection.

Vaccines do not cause strep infections and vaccines do not cause PANDAS.

The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines recently voted against adding PANDAS as a vaccine table injury.
The Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines recently voted against adding PANDAS as a vaccine table injury.

Responding to a petition to add PANDAS and similar conditions as a vaccine table injury, the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines voted 5 to 1 against, stating that:

  • No published study that examines anti‐neuronal antibodies including anti‐dopamine receptor 1 (DR1), anti‐dopamine receptor 2 (DR2), anti‐tubulin, anti‐lysoganglioside – GM1 or antibody‐mediated activation of calcium calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in children suspected of PANS and/or PITAND following pertussis infection or following pertussis immunization was found.
  • No published case report of conjugate pneumococcal vaccines or pneumococcal infections and Hib vaccines or Hib infections causing or enabling the development of acute neuropsychiatric symptoms via a mechanism of blood‐brain barrier disruption with GAS antibody‐mediated CNS cross‐reaction in a susceptible child were found.
  • No published case report of PANS, PITAND and/or PANDAS following pertussis vaccination or during or following pertussis infection were found.
  • No published case report of PANS, PITAND and/or PANDAS following either pneumococcal conjugate or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination or pneumococcal or Haemophilus influenzae type b infection were found.

There is no evidence that vaccines cause PANDAS.

“Children with PANS and PANDAS should receive standard childhood vaccines, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016a). The patient and all family members should receive annual influenza immunization as described under Influenza (described earlier).”

Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part III—Treatment and Prevention of Infections

What about PANS and PITANDS?

These are similar, although much more controversial than PANDAS.

What’s the difference?

With PANDAS, the trigger is a strep infection. What about if you have symptoms of PANDAS, but no evidence of a strep infection?

Then some folks stick with the diagnosis and simply label you as having PANS or PITANDS, blaming some other infection, even though there is little evidence that these are a real thing.

More on PANDAS

Vaccines and the Blood-Brain Barrier

When they aren’t talking about toxins, anti-vaccine folks like to talk about two things – the gut and the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

Kelly Brogan, a holistic psychiatrist, missed an opportunity to talk about the gut when scaring folks about "toxins" in flu shots and the blood brain barrier.
Kelly Brogan, a holistic psychiatrist, missed an opportunity to talk about the gut when scaring folks about “toxins” in flu shots and the blood-brain barrier.

Sometimes they talk about all of them together.

What is the Blood-Brain Barrier?

The blood-brain barrier is exactly what you think it is – a barrier to keep substances in the blood from entering the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Of course, the blood-brain barrier is not impermeable, as some substances, like glucose, ketone bodies, and amino acids have to get to the brain. Brain cells need fuel, just like every other part of the body. And waste products have to get from the brain, across the blood-brain barrier, and back into the blood, so that we can get rid of them.

So the blood-brain barrier doesn’t block everything though. Instead, it is a semi-permeable membrane that lets some things through, but keeps out foreign substances (neurotoxins), lipid insoluble molecules, large molecules (macromolecules), and molecules with a charge.

Why is all of this important?

With a functioning blood-brain barrier, many medications, hormones, and toxins, are kept from affecting our brains! Of course, the blood-brain barrier can make it hard when you do want something to affect your brain, like when you are treating meningitis, anxiety, depression, or migraines.

And there are times when the blood-brain barrier can break down, like after a stroke, certain infections, head trauma, or having high blood pressure, etc.

Vaccines and the Blood-Brain Barrier

So what do vaccines have to do with the blood-brain barrier?

If you understand how vaccines work, you have already likely expected that the answer is, not much.

Anti-vaccine folks think that vaccine ingredients, their so-called toxins, can cross the blood-brain barrier – our semi-permeable membrane that keeps most things out.

They also think that teething can induce a chemical cascade that can make a child’s blood-brain barrier extra leaky. It doesn’t.

And they think that an infant’s blood-brain barrier isn’t developed, an anti-vaccine talking point which helps reinforce their decision to skip or delay vaccinating their kids.

When Does the Blood-Brain Barrier Form?

It shouldn’t be surprising that none of the things that anti-vaccine folks say about the blood-brain barrier is true.

“In contrast with the rodent, in which the development of the BBB occurs primarily after birth, the human barrier and its tight junction protein complex develop mainly in utero. More recent evidence has confirmed that the proteins of the tight junction complex are present very early during human fetal brain development.”

Fetal and Neonatal Physiology (Fifth Edition)

So, of course, the blood-brain barrier forms before a baby is born.

“Given sufficient time and dosage most drugs can breach the placenta and enter the fetal circulation, posing a teratogenic risk to the fetal brain. Although the placenta and BBB have several efflux transporters in common, the BBB is a far more structurally complex and restrictive system.”

Goasdoué et al on Review: The blood-brain barrier; protecting the developing fetal brain

The placenta does a good job of most things from getting to your baby, but once inside, you don’t want everything in your baby’s blood to get to their brain, right?

That’s why the blood-brain barrier begins to form well before your baby is born.

“The BBB develops during fetal life and is well formed by birth, especially to proteins and macromolecules.”

Abbott et al on the Structure and function of the blood-brain barrier

And it is well formed by the time they are born.

None of the ingredients in vaccines, whether it is aluminum, polysorbate 80, or anything else, is going to cross the blood-brain barrier and act as a toxin.

“One can question why polysorbate-80 is in the vaccines if it serves to potentially transport vaccine materials across the blood-brain-barrier. After all, what vaccine materials need to enter the brain? The obvious answer is, none. I’ve heard people ask if the polysorbate-80 is in the vaccines intentionally, used as part of a medical experiment on the human race, like we heard about during World War II.”

Lawrence Palevsky, MD in the Holistic Child Health Newsletter August 2013

It should be clear that these ideas about the blood-brain barrier are just more myths to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

Polysorbate 80, for example, is an emulsifier that helps ingredients mix together. It is also used in ice cream and other foods. Maybe someone can ask Dr. Palevsky if he thinks that’s why we sometimes get a ‘brain freeze’ when we eat ice cream – the polysorbate 80 is allowing the ice cream to cross our blood-brain barrier and literally freeze our brain as some kind of medical experiment on the human race.

What to Know About Vaccines and the Blood Brain Barrier

The blood-brain barrier is a semi-permeable membrane that develops before your baby is born. Review how that should affect your decision to vaccinate your kids.

More on Vaccines and the Blood Brain Barrier