Tourette Syndrome -- Child

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a type of tic disorder. Tics are sudden muscle movements or vocal sounds that can range from mild to severe in how disrupting they are. TS, a neurological condition, is usually diagnosed during childhood.

  • Causes

    TS may be a genetic condition, passed from parents to children. This is still being studied. TS may also be linked to problems with dopamine levels, a chemical in the brain that sends signals to neurons.

    Genetic Material
    Chromosome DNA
    TS may be inherited through genes, which make up DNA.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Tourette syndrome (TS) is a type of tic disorder. Tics are sudden muscle movements or vocal sounds that can range from mild to severe in how disrupting they are. TS, a neurological condition, is usually diagnosed during childhood.

  • Diagnosis


    The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. In some cases, the doctor may order imagining tests (eg,
    MRI scan
    ,
    PET scan
    ) to rule out other disorders. These tests are usually not needed. Your child will probably be referred to a mental health expert. This person will evaluate your child.

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent TS.

  • Risk Factors

    Risk factors include:


    • Family history of TS, other tic disorders, or
      obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Sex: male
    • Low birth weight
    • Maternal factors (eg, stress during pregnancy)

    • Conditions that affect the brain (eg,
      carbon monoxide poisoning
      , injury, infections)

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can occur suddenly, and the length of time they last can vary. Tics may temporarily decrease with concentration or distraction. During times of stress, they may occur more often.

    Tics can be muscle movements (motor tics) or vocal sounds (vocal tics). They can also be characterized as simple or complex. Here are some common examples:


    • Motor tics

      • Simple—eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerking, arm or leg thrusting
      • Complex—jumping, smelling, touching things or other people, twirling around

    • Vocal tics

      • Simple—throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, grunting, yelping, barking
      • Complex—saying words or phrases that do not make sense in a given situation, saying obscene or socially unacceptable words (called coprolalia)

    Your child may also have other related conditions, such as:

    • Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity
      (ADD or ADHD)
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Treatment

    Work with the doctor to create a treatment plan that is right for your child. Options include: