Strep throat a cause of Tourette syndrome? Still a hypothesis

October 9, 2005

During a presentation today at the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition, a pediatric infectious disease expert and pediatric neurologist addressed the latest findings on a possible link between strep throat and Tourette syndrome (TS). In short: The hypothesis is intriguing but more study is needed.

During a presentation today at the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition, a pediatric infectious disease expert and pediatric neurologist addressed the latest findings on a possible link between strep throat and Tourette syndrome (TS). In short: The hypothesis is intriguing but more study is needed.

According to Stanford Shulman, MD, and Donald Gilbert, MD, research over the past few years has, increasingly, focused on infections as a possible trigger of TS. The possibility of such a link is exciting and interesting but, before thousands of TS patients are treated with long-term antibiotics, immune-suppressing treatments, or tonsillectomies, the two agreed, more research is needed because a link between streptococcal pharyngitis and TS is, at this time, an unproven hypothesis.

Dr. Gilbert recommends that families who think their child's symptoms of TS may be caused by streptococcal infection should obtain an evaluation by a physician who is familiar with current research on this issue. He also said that families might be interested to know that a study funded by the National Institutes of Health on strep and tics or obsessive-compulsive disorder is ongoing in a number of cities in the United States.