Is Tourette syndrome (TS) inherited?

Doctors and scientists do not know the exact cause of Tourette syndrome (TS), but research suggests that it is an inherited genetic condition. That means it is passed on from parent to child through genes. Genetic studies have indicated that TS is inherited as a dominant gene, with about a 50% chance of parents passing the gene on to their children. Some research has shown that TS is a genetically complex disorder that likely occurs as a result of the effects of multiple genes interacting with other factors in the environment. Scientists are studying the causes of and risk factors for TS in an effort to understand it better, to find better ways to manage it and to reduce the chances of a person having TS. 

Evidence from twin and family studies suggests that Tourette syndrome (TS) is an inherited disorder. Although early family studies suggested an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance (an autosomal dominant disorder is one in which only one copy of the defective gene, inherited from one parent, is necessary to produce the disorder), more recent studies suggest that the pattern of inheritance is much more complex. Although there may be a few genes with substantial effects, it is also possible that many genes with smaller effects and environmental factors may play a role in the development of TS. Genetic studies also suggest that some forms of ADHD and OCD are genetically related to TS, However, there is less evidence for a genetic relationship between TS and other neurobehavioral problems that commonly co-occur with TS. It is important for families to understand that genetic predisposition may not necessarily result in full-blown TS; 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 TS symptoms.

The sex of the person also plays an important role in TS gene expression. At-risk males are more likely to have tics and at-risk females are more likely to have obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

People with TS may have genetic risks for other neurobehavioral disorders, such as depression or substance abuse. Genetic counseling of individuals with TS should include a full review of all potentially hereditary conditions in the family.

This information is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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