A Follow Up Study of Tics and Tic Disorders in a Community Sample of Children and Adolescents

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Yale Child Study Center
Investigators Name
Scahill, Lawrence, MSN, MPH

Tics commonly occur in school-age children with estimates ranging from 5 to 12 percent. However, chronic tic disorders are far less common. For example, the prevalence of Tourette Syndrome (TS) has been estimated at 1 to 2 cases per 2,000 children in the general population. In clinical samples, TS is associated with a range of disruptive behavior including impulsiveness, overactivity, low frustra¬tion tolerance and explosive outbursts as well as learning problems. For many children seen in clinical settings, these disruptive behaviors are often the source of greater impairment than the tics alone. Indeed, these disruptive behavior problems are often the primary reason for seeking treatment. The frequent co-occurrence of TS and disruptive behavior problems observed in clinical samples has led some observers to speculate that disruptive behavior is actually a part of TS. However, the apparent association between tic disorders and disruptive behavior may be erroneous because children with tics alone may be less likely to seek treatment and thus never be seen in a clinical setting. One way to investigate whether there is a relationship between tics and disruptive behavior is to determine whether this association is evident in a community-based sample. Unfortunately, very little data from community samples are available. However, an epidemio¬logical survey conducted in Connecticut offers a unique opportunity to evaluate a community-based sample of children with tic disorders. The original survey was conducted in Connecticut in 1990, and included 450 children between 6 and 11 years old. Parents were interviewed with a detailed survey that included information about psychiatric symptoms and tics. In that survey, 55 children were identified as having tics by parent interview. The purpose of the present study is to re-evaluate these 55 children in order to evaluate the course of their tic symptoms since the time of that first interview. Because these children were ascertained from a community sample, we will be able to study the association between tic disorders and disruptive behavior. This relationship will be evaluated by comparing the frequency of disruptive behavior problems in the group of children with tics to that of a control group of children without tics. * TSA is grateful to the Yale Child Study Center for underwriting this study with funds from a bequest to Yale from the H.B. Pearl Estate. Larry Scahill, M.S.N., M.P.H. Mary Schwab-Stone, M.D. James F. Leckman, M.D. Beth Muller, M.S.N. Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT Award: $39,895* *TSA is grateful to the Yale Child Study Center for underwriting this study with funds from a bequest to Yale from the H.B. Pearl Estate. Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 1997