Editor's note: The following post was written by Kim Ruckman, a mother whose child experienced positive behavioral and mood changes following genetic testing through Courtagen. Although the testing did not result in a definitive diagnosis in this case, it did inform important dietary changes that made a big difference in this child's quality of life.
A couple years ago, our nine-year-old son developed severe mood swings. Everything would be fine one moment, and the next he would be screaming, hitting, and saying awful things to whomever was in his path. This wasn't the happy, easy going, loving son that my family knew.
I questioned whether these behaviors were due to a child acting out—growing up and trying to push buttons. But then it hit a level of intensity and insanity that I knew was not normal. I swear I tried every parenting tactic I knew: punishment, ignoring it, rewarding good behavior. Nothing was working. There was no reasoning with him. There were times I literally had to drag him into his room and hold the door shut as he banged and kicked on the other side. I worried he was going to hit me or hit his little sister. I would go into my own bedroom and flop down on the bed and cry while staring at the ceiling, feeling exhausted in every way and wondering what was going on with my son.
He was diagnosed with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), but as time went on, we noticed the diagnosis was not a good fit, and the treatments that were supposed to help did not. I took him to several other doctors, and we tried different treatments. None of them were effective. He was still having awful mood swings and violent tantrums. Every time a treatment failed, my hopes came crashing down. I started feeling like my relationship with my son—a once wonderful relationship—was crumbling. It felt like having a back and forth conversation without a mood swing was becoming more and more rare.
But being a mom means you never give up on your child! You keep pursuing answers until you find them. Especially when your gut is telling you something is wrong. So I decided to take him to yet another doctor. We decided on Dr. John Catanzaro who is a naturopath specializing in genetics. He suspected the PANS diagnosis was incorrect and that our son had an underlying issue with his blood sugar, and he was dysglycemic. It was at that time he recommended we do genetic testing through Courtagen.
After a few weeks of waiting, the results arrived! The report said our son has two genetic variants in genes that are related to blood sugar and insulin levels.
We started tracking our son’s blood sugar throughout the day and found a trend of when he would have his "lows". For our son, he starts to show symptoms of hypoglycemia when his blood sugar is in the low 80s. He will develop mood swings, bad headaches, stomach ache, dry mouth, and sweating.
We changed his diet to include protein with every meal and snack, and make sure he eats every 2-3 hours. We also make sure he has a protein snack before he goes to bed at night. Additionally, his doctor recommended taking a medication that helps bump up his blood sugar.
The change in his mood has been amazing. And if he does start to show symptoms, we now know what to look for and can fix it by having him eat a meal. Within 15 minutes, he is a happy kid again.
Thanks to genetic testing through Courtagen, we know the cause of our son’s behavior, and are treating it correctly. Our son has experienced no bad side effects, because the plan his doctor put in place, works perfectly with our sons genetics.
Thank you Courtagen and Dr. Catanzaro for giving us our happy son back!
Disclaimer: Due to the personalized nature of genetic testing, the recommendations and treatment plans discussed in this article are specific to the individual patient and not intended to be suggestions for others with similar signs, symptoms, or test results. Please always consult a health care provider regarding diagnostic and treatment plans for you or your child.