The prevalence and epidemiology of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Part 2: Tentative explanations for differing prevalence figures in GTS, including the possible effects of psychopathology, aetiology, cultural differences, and differing phenotypes

University College, London, United Kingdom.
Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Impact Factor: 2.74). 12/2008; 65(5):473-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.03.007
Source: PubMed


As has been demonstrated, Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome (GTS) occurs in at least 1% of the population worldwide. However, earlier studies suggested a lower prevalence. In addition, the prevalence figures for different studies very between 0.4% and 3.8%. Moreover, the prevalence appears to vary in some parts of the world and races, with a lower rate in Afro-Americans and sub-Saharan black Africans. In this the second part of the review, possible reasons for the differences in prevalence and epidemiology are discussed. Tentative explanations for differing prevalence figures in GTS include problems with the diagnosis of GTS, the multidimensional nature of tics, as well as other tic factors including the waxing and waning of symptoms and the suppressibility of symptoms. Other factors inherent to GTS include the fact that there is no diagnostic test and indeed no definitive diagnosis other than clinical, the fact that psychosocial stresses can lead to increased tic severity, and that comorbid disorders may mask tics. The varying methods of study employed can also effect prevalence. There may be some regional differences in GTS as well, which may be due to a lack of awareness of GTS, or it may be a true reflection of low prevalence as in some populations GTS does appear rare. With regard to the sub-Saharan Africa data and possibly the African American data, matters are much more complex than meets the eye. The following reasons are all possible for the apparent rarity in these populations and include (i) other medical priorities and less propensity to seek health care, (ii) lack of awareness of GTS, (iii) chance, (iv) ethnic and epigenetic differences and reasons, (v) genetic and allelic differences in different races, and (vi) an admixture of races. The aetiology of GTS is also complex, with influences from complex genetic mechanisms, pre- and perinatal difficulties and, in a subgroup, some infections, possibly by epigenetic mechanisms. These may well affect phenotype and, thus, prevalence. There have even been suggestions that people with GTS are increasing. Recent data suggests that GTS is not a unitary condition and that there may well be different types of GTS. The prevalence of GTS in these individual subtypes is unknown. It is suggested that a new nomenclature be adopted for GTS in future, pending further genetic and phenomenological studies. To what extent the aetiology affects the phenotype and, thus, the prevalence is still unclear.

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    • "Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition in which an individual has involuntary movements and vocalisations ('tics') for a period of 12 months or more. TS is thought to affect as many as one in every hundred schoolaged children (Robertson, 2008a), but many children will have only mild symptoms that cause minimal impairment and some will not have received a diagnosis (Robertson, 2008b). Other children with TS have more frequent and severe tics. "
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    ABSTRACT: Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition involving involuntary movements and sounds (tics) and is thought to affect as many as 1% of school-aged children. Some young people with Tourette syndrome experience educational difficulties and social difficulties. Current clinical guidelines suggest educators can play an important role in maximising learning potential and reducing the negative impact of this condition on students' social adjustment. Secondary school staff (N = 63) with responsibilities for special educational needs or disabilities completed a survey about support strategies for students with Tourette syndrome. Participants were first asked to suggest potentially helpful strategies and then rated how easily 17 recommended strategies could be implemented in school. The survey participants suggested a range of support strategies that were categorised as (1) promoting knowledge and understanding in school, (2) helping the student to cope with his/her tics, (3) supporting the student's learning and (4) providing social and emotional support. All the recommended support strategies were rated as being easy to implement (or already in place) by the majority of respondents (e.g., increasing staff awareness and regular communication with home). The strategies that were identified as being least easy to implement were those requiring extra staff input (support from teaching assistants and individual/small group working). Additional challenges to providing support were also identified by the participants (e.g., getting input from outside agencies).
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs
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    • "First, tic symptoms cluster by complexity (simple versus complex) (Mathews et al., 2007; Robertson et al., 2008; Kircanski et al., 2010). Second, compulsive tic behaviors (e.g., touching, repetitive behaviors, echolalia) cluster separately from other tic symptoms (e.g., head movements, leg movements, coprolalia) (Alsobrook and Pauls, 2002; Robertson et al., 2008). Kircanski and colleagues used agglomerative cluster analysis to examine clusters of tic symptoms from the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS; Leckman et al., 1989) and their clinical correlates in 99 children (Kircanski et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cluster analytic methods have examined the symptom presentation of chronic tic disorders (CTDs), with limited agreement across studies. The present study investigated patterns, clinical correlates, and treatment outcome of tic symptoms. 239 youth and adults with CTDs completed a battery of assessments at baseline to determine diagnoses, tic severity, and clinical characteristics. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics (CBIT) or psychoeducation and supportive therapy (PST). A cluster analysis was conducted on the baseline Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) symptom checklist to identify the constellations of tic symptoms. Four tic clusters were identified: Impulse Control and Complex Phonic Tics; Complex Motor Tics; Simple Head Motor/Vocal Tics; and Primarily Simple Motor Tics. Frequencies of tic symptoms showed few differences across youth and adults. Tic clusters had small associations with clinical characteristics and showed no associations to the presence of coexisting psychiatric conditions. Cluster membership scores did not predict treatment response to CBIT or tic severity reductions. Tic symptoms distinctly cluster with little difference across youth and adults, or coexisting conditions. This study, which is the first to examine tic clusters and response to treatment, suggested that tic symptom profiles respond equally well to CBIT. Clinical identifiers: NCT00218777; NCT00231985.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Psychiatry Research
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    • "Comorbid conditions are frequently associated with tic disorders. The most frequent conditions are attention deficit disorders (ADHDs) in about 20% of the children, followed by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), self-injurious behavior, anxiety, depression, personality disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorders.7 ADHDs generally occur before tic onset and tend to decrease in 20% of children during adolescence, yet later than tics.8 "
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    ABSTRACT: Tic disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood associated with psychiatric comorbidity and academic problems. Estimating the prevalence and understanding the epidemiology of tic disorders is more complex than was once thought. Until fairly recently, tic disorders were thought to be rare, but today tics are believed to be the most common movement disorder, with 0.2-46.3% of schoolchildren experiencing tics during their lifetime. Tentative explanations for differing prevalence estimates include the multidimensional nature of tics with a varied and heterogeneous presentation, and the use of different epidemiological methods and study designs. Literature review and analysis of methodological issues pertinent to epidemiological studies of tic disorders. Epidemiological studies of tic disorders were reviewed, and the main elements of epidemiological studies, including sample selection, case ascertainment strategy, definition of tic disorders, and the degree of coverage of the eligible population (i.e., the response rate) were examined. In order to improve the quality of epidemiological studies of tic disorders, a number of recommendations were made, including but not limited to a review of the diagnostic criteria for tic disorders, and inclusion of new tic disorder categories for those with tics of secondary etiology.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012
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