The history of Tourette syndrome dates back to the early 1800s. Its namesake is Gilles de la Tourette, a French physician. Another French doctor, Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, actually reported the first case of the syndrome in 1825. He described the symptoms of the Marquise de Dampierre, an 80-year-old woman of nobility who had suffered since the age of 7 from repetitive movements and vocalizations. In 1885, de la Tourette published "Study of a Nervous Affliction," his account of nine patients at a French hospital who were afflicted with involuntary movements. And so, the "tic illness" came to be known as the Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.
It wasn't until the 20th century that any real progress was made in further defining and treating Tourette syndrome. We now know that Tourette syndrome does have a genetic origin and that it usually first occurs around the age of 6 or 7 and always before the age of 18. The tics are normally most severe around the ages of 8 to 12 and decrease steadily after that. The syndrome is a dominant gene and has about a 50 percent chance of passing from parent to child. We also know that boys tend to get Tourette syndrome three to four times more often than girls. However, people who have the gene don't necessarily suffer from a noticeable form of Tourette syndrome. They might not develop any symptoms, or they could suffer from a mild form that may go undetected.Now let's find out what scientists think may cause this syndrome.