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Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that results in repetitive involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. It occurs in people from all ethnic groups and in both males and females, but males are typically affected three to four times more than females. The causes of Tourette syndrome are unknown, but it is believed that the condition may be hereditary.

What Is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.
 

How Common Is Tourette Syndrome?

It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of Tourette syndrome, and as many as 1 in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms, such as chronic motor or vocal tics, as well as transient tics of childhood.
 
Tourette syndrome occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more often than females.
 

Causes of Tourette Syndrome

The cause or causes of this condition are not known. However, attempting to find the causes is an active area of Tourette syndrome research.
 
(Click Causes of Tourette Syndrome for more information.)
 

Is Tourette Syndrome Inherited?

Evidence from twin and family studies suggests that Tourette syndrome may be inherited, meaning it could be passed from parent to child. At this point, however, scientists are not able to say which specific chromosomes and genes are involved. They also think that the environment may play a role along with genetics.
 
It is important for families to understand that someone who is at risk for the condition may not necessarily develop full-blown Tourette syndrome. Instead, it may express itself as a milder tic disorder or as obsessive-compulsive behaviors. It is also possible that the gene-carrying offspring will not develop any symptoms of Tourette syndrome.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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