According to a study published online in the February 10, 2021 issue of the journal, Tourette syndrome and other chronic disorders such as chronic tic disorders in children and teens does not seem to be made worse by exposure to the bacteria that causes it. Neurology®The medical journal of American Academy of Neurology. However, increased hyperactivity and impulsiveness were associated with exposure. Previous research has suggested a possible connection between tic and behavioral disorders.
Tics are repetitive movements or vocalizations that are triggered by the urge to produce them. They are the main feature of chronic disorders like Tourette syndrome (a neurodevelopmental disorder that starts in childhood) and tic disorders.
This study was conducted to examine group A streptococcus (a type of bacteria that causes impetigo and strep throat) in the context of this study.
Davide Martino M.D. of the University of Calgary in Alberta (Canada) and a member of American Academy of Neurology said, “The linkbetween streptococcus infection and tics in children remains a matter of intense debate.” “We wanted to examine that question as well as the possibility of strep and behavioral symptoms such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD].”
715 children with chronic tic conditions were part of the study. 91% of those surveyed had Tourette syndrome. ADHD was diagnosed in 258 participants, and OCD in 227.
The researchers then followed each child for an average 16-month period. Each child was examined at the clinic once every four months. At that time, throat swabs were taken and blood samples were taken. This was to determine if they had been infected. At the beginning of this study, 59 children had tested positive for the strep bacteria. 103 children were exposed to strep bacteria during the study.
The parents kept diaries and monitored changes in severity of tic symptoms through telephone interviews, in person visits, or in-person visits.
Out of 715 children, 308 suffered from worsening symptoms. Researchers did not find a link between tics getting worse and strep exposure. Researchers also found no association between strep exposure, OCD symptoms, and tics getting worse.
Researchers looked at behavioral measures and found a correlation between strep and ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and around 20% increase in impulsiveness.
Martino stated, “While our findings suggest strep isn’t likely to be the main trigger for making tics worse,” Martino added. “Infections are not the only thing that can cause tics to get worse, but social stress from having this disorder could also be a factor.” Another pathogen could also be triggering an immune response that causes tic worsening.
One limitation of the study was that data were collected in multiple countries. This could lead to differences in clinical procedures.
Materials provided by American Academy of Neurology. Note: Content can be edited for style or length.