Tic disorders have a strong male predominance, with a male-to-female ratio of 4:1 in Tourette syndrome (TS) and 2:1 in persistent tic disorders. In other neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the disparity in sex distribution has been partially related to differences in symptom presentation between males and females. In tic disorders, however, little research has been conducted on this topic, probably due to the limited access to large samples with a significant proportion of females. The aim of this study was to describe sex differences in the clinical presentation of tic disorders in children and adolescents in one of the largest pediatric samples with TS/persistent tic disorders (n = 709, 23.3% females) recruited as part of the European Multicenter Tics in Children Study (EMTICS). Validated measures assessed the severity of tics and comorbid psychiatric symptoms. Using mixed-effect models, we found that sex had a significant influence on the severity of tics, ADHD symptoms, ASD symptoms, and emotional problems. Males had more severe symptoms than females, except for emotional problems. We also observed a statistically significant interaction between sex and age on the severity of tics and compulsions, with females showing higher symptom severity with increasing age than males. These findings indicate that the clinical presentation of TS/persistent tic disorders varies with sex. Males seem to exhibit a more noticeable pattern of clinical symptoms at a younger age that may contribute to their earlier detection in comparison to females.
- Sex differences
- Tourette syndrome