OBJECTIVES. This study aimed to examine whether pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus were appropriately diagnosed in the community and to determine subsequent rates of unwarranted use of antibiotic treatment for tics and obsessive-compulsive symptoms without the identification of an infection.

METHODS. The design was a retrospective, cross-sectional, observational study of 176 children and adolescents who were evaluated in a specialty program for tics, Tourette's disorder, and related problems. Previously published diagnostic criteria were used to establish the diagnosis of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus in our clinic.

RESULTS. Subjects were significantly less likely to receive a diagnosis of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus at the specialty clinic than in the community. In the community, subjects were significantly more likely to be treated with antibiotics or immunosuppressant medication if they received a diagnosis of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus. Of the 27 subjects with a community diagnosis of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus who were treated with antibiotics, 22 (82%) were treated without laboratory evidence of an infection; 2 were treated with immunomodulatory medications.

CONCLUSIONS. Our results support our hypothesis that pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus are frequently diagnosed in the community without the application of all working diagnostic criteria. This phenomenon has resulted in unwarranted use of antibiotic treatment for tics/obsessive-compulsive disorder without evidence of laboratory infection.

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