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Ask Dr. Ticcy: Will my child be born with TS?

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Dr. Ticcy is a pseudonym for the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada National Office, which draws on information from experts across Canada and beyond to answer questions from the TS community. Please send your questions to tsfc@tourette.ca with the salutation “Dear Dr. Ticcy.”

Dear Dr. Ticcy,

I have TS and I am thinking about having a baby. Will my child be born with TS too?

Thanks for your help,
Possible Parent

Dear Possible Parent,

Thank you for sharing this question with our readers.

The fact that you have TS does make it possible that your future children or child could also have TS since TS is a hereditary condition (passed down through genes/family).

The question often asked is: “How likely is it that my child will be born with TS if my partner or I has it?”

The answer is complex, just like the condition itself.

Recent research indicates that the inheritance of TS is genetic, however, TS isn’t the most “inheritable” type of tic disorder. Chronic tic disorder, a milder tic disorder than TS, is actually more likely to be inherited.

If you have TS, current research indicates that you have a 5-15% chance of having a child, parent or sibling with TS.

What does this mean? Well, some parents with TS have a child that does not have TS. In other families, every generation or most generations have TS. In the latter case, which is not reflective of the general population, there is most likely a strong genetic form of TS present.

Scientists used to believe that TS was carried in a single gene, but researchers have since found that TS is caused by problems in a few genes or possibly thousands of genes in combination.

Some researchers found evidence that environmental factors may also play a role in TS inheritance in addition to genetic factors. These environmental factors include: pregnant mothers’ use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs; low birth weight; and complications during pregnancy (e.g. vomiting, high blood pressure). Keep in mind the presence of these factors merely increase the likelihood of inheritance, and just like the genetic factors they do not mean a person is certain to have a child with TS.

Talk to your doctor about your concerns, and if you and your physician think it is appropriate you may wish to see a genetic counselor.

Thanks again for your question.

Sincerely,
Dr. Ticcy

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