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What are the causes of Tourette syndrome?

The causes of tics and Tourette's Syndrome are unknown, but research suggests these disorders arise from abnormalities in specific regions of the brain and the circuitry that connects these regions. Specific neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) that carry messages between nerve cells appear to be of particular importance in tic disorders.

Scientists are studying the causes of and risk factors for Tourette syndrome (TS) in an effort to understand it better, and to find better ways to manage TS and to reduce the chances of a person having TS. The causes of TS and other tic disorders are not well understood. Although the risk factors for and causes of TS are unknown, current research shows that genes play an important role, and there is a 50% chance of parents passing on the gene to their children. Some studies have shown that TS might occur as the result of multiple genes interacting with environmental factors; other research has shown that the following factors might be associated with TS, but additional research is needed to better understand these associations: mother drinking alcohol or smoking during pregnancy, complications during birth, infection and low birthweight.

The causes of Tourette's syndrome has not been identified, but genetics and the environment may both play a role. Based on families with many affected members, some experts think some forms of Tourette's Syndrome may be inherited. It is possible that abnormalities in the way brain chemicals send information may also be a factor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.