An international perspective on Tourette syndrome: selected findings from 3,500 individuals in 22 countries

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Jul;42(7):436-47. doi: 10.1017/s0012162200000839.


We have established a multisite, international database of 3,500 individuals diagnosed with Tourette syndrome (TS). The male:female ratio is 4.3:1 for the total sample, with wide variation among sites; the male excess occurs at every site. Anger control problems, sleep difficulties, coprolalia, and self-injurious behavior only reach impressive levels in individuals with comorbidity. Anger control problems are strongly correlated with comorbidity, regardless of site, region, or whether assessed by neurologists or psychiatrists. The mean age at onset of tics is 6.4 years. At all ages, about 12% of individuals with TS have no reported comorbidity. The most common reported comorbidity is attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Males are more likely to have comorbid disorders than females. The earlier the age at onset, the greater the likelihood of a positive family history of tics. An understanding of the factors producing these and other variations might assist in better subtyping of TS. Because behavioral problems are associated with comorbidity, their presence should dictate a high index of suspicion of the latter, whose treatment may be at least as important as tic reduction. The established database can be used as the entry point for further research when large samples are studied and generalizability of results is important.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • International Cooperation
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Tourette Syndrome / complications
  • Tourette Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology