Tourette's most common in white kids, boys

Jun 04, 2009 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- Tourette syndrome occurs in 3 out of every 1,000 school-aged children, and is more than twice as common in white kids as in blacks or Hispanics, according to the largest U.S. study to estimate how many have the disorder.

Tourette's - known for its physical tics and, in some cases, shouted obscenities - has long been considered a rare condition. The new number means it's more common than some past estimates, but confirms that it's far less common than other neurological conditions like autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The racial gaps are probably the most surprising finding, said study's authors said.

"Prior to this, we really had very little information about minorities," said Lawrence Scahill, a Yale University researcher. The study was released Thursday.

It's not clear why whites have a higher rate or if future studies will find the same disparity, experts said. Some suspect it has less to do with genetics than with a difference in access to medical care or in attitudes about whether repetitive blinking or other tics require medical care.

The study, led by the , estimates there are about 150,000 U.S. children with Tourette's, below the 200,000 threshold for rare diseases.

The researchers also found that:

- Most cases were mild, but one in four were - in the parent's opinion - moderate or severe.

- Boys had a rate three times higher than girls.

- About 80 percent had been diagnosed with another mental illness or developmental disability.

Tourette's is characterized by involuntary, sudden and repetitive movements. They may be as mild as blinking, nose twitching or grimacing, or severe as head jerking or other motions that cause chronic pain or injury. Some also have vocal tics that range from grunting and throat-clearing to barking and swearing.

The condition tends to peak in early adolescence and fades afterward. Scientists don't know the cause, but believe genetics are at least part of the answer.

Earlier studies offered a range of estimates of Tourette's from less than 1 per 1,000 to close to 30.

The CDC study was the first to employ a national survey. Parents or guardians in more than 91,000 U.S. households were interviewed by phone, and asked if a doctor had ever told them that their child had Tourette syndrome. They also were asked about diagnoses of depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems or developmental disabilities.

The researchers found that the Tourette's rate in white children was about 4 per 1,000, while the rate for both blacks and Hispanics was about 1.5.

The researchers looked at parental education and household income, and found those factors did not explain the racial difference.

The report is being published this week in a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

---

On the Net:

The CDC publication: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Flu season, early again, hitting hard in South and Midwest

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CDC: Fido and Fluffy behind 86,000 falls a year

Mar 26, 2009

(AP) -- Watch out for Fluffy and Fido! Cats and dogs are a factor in more than 86,000 serious falls each year, according to the first government study of pet-related tumbles.

Study: Psychotherapy can reduce tics

Dec 18, 2007

U.S. scientists have discovered several types of psychotherapy effectively reduce tic symptoms in people with Tourette's disorder or similar conditions.

Recommended for you

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears

1 hour ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate vote that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

22 hours ago

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

22 hours ago

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

Discovery of genes that predispose a severe form of COPD

Dec 19, 2014

A study by Ramcés Falfán-Valencia, researcher at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER), found that the mestizo Mexican population has a number of variations in certain genes that predispose ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.