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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Strep Throat: No Tourette's Link Seen

Study Shows No Association Between Strep and Tourette's Syndrome, Tics, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 30, 2009 -- Streptococcal infections, which include strep throat and strep pneumonia, don't appear to make Tourette's syndrome, tics, or obsessive-compulsive disorder more common, a new study shows.

That study, published in the advance online edition of Neurology, is based on data from 4,774 children and young adults in the U.K.

The group included 129 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), 108 patients with Tourette's syndrome, and 18 with tics.

The researchers -- who included Anette Schrag, MD, of the Institute of Neurology at University College London -- checked all participants' medical records, looking for any pattern of strep infection within two to five years of diagnosis of OCD, Tourette's syndrome, or tics.

Schrag's team went looking for those patterns based on earlier studies that suggested that strep infection could cause neuropsychiatric disorders. But Schrag and colleagues found no evidence of that connection.

Schrag and colleagues note that their findings don't rule out any possibility of such a link, but that a very large, prospective study that "may be prohibitively expensive" isn't supported by current evidence.

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