Teenager starts braying like a DONKEY after pregnancy triggers bizarre form of Tourette's Syndrome
A pregnant teenager with Tourette's Syndrome was stunned when she started braying like a donkey days after conception.
Cody Hagel, 18, began suffering with the debilitating condition when she was 14 years old.
For years she experienced between 10 and 20 leg twitches and head jerks a day but her 'tics' were never verbal.
Talking their language: Braying teenager Jody Hagel with two donkeys on her farm in North Dakota
But her family were shocked when Miss Hagel started to make donkey noises – more than 30 times a day – after falling pregnant five months ago.
She revealed that she has also started to shout the word ‘yes’ and ‘haha’ as well as experiencing the tics she had before conceiving.
Pregnancy often alters the nature of Tourette's – sometimes eradicating it – although scientists are unsure why.
The teenager lives with her father Dwayne and her mother Tanya on their farm in North Dakota.
They keep two donkeys called Oliver and Rachel who might be responsible for the teenager's embarrassing affliction.
Strange happenings on the farm: Miss Hagel, 18, who has suffered from mild Tourette's – mainly consisting of head jerks – since age 14, began braying after falling pregnant five months ago
She said: ‘It's a familiar sound on the farm so that probably explains why I've started to mimic it.
‘I have my own theory why this has happened.
‘My Tourette's started with the onset of puberty and I think my pregnancy hormones are probably to blame for the change in my tics.
WHAT IS TOURETTE'S SYNDROME
Tourette's is is a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics.
Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements that involve a limited number of muscle groups.
Vocal tics may include throat-clearing, sniffing/snorting, grunting, or barking. More complex vocal tics include words or phrases.
The disorder is named after Dr Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.
The early symptoms of TS are typically noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 3 and 9 years but it can occur later in life.
TS occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more often than females.
Pregnancy often alters the nature of Tourette's – sometimes eradicating it – although scientists are unsure why. It is thought that changes may be due to different hormones.
‘The braying started pretty much immediately after I fell pregnant and I've been suffering with it ever since.
‘It is embarrassing but my family are very understanding. If people start looking awkward or staring it makes it worse. So they tend to act like it's completely normal.’
Miss Hagel, a first-time mother, told how she is nervous about passing on the tourettes to son Damien after he is born.
She said: ‘I've been told that if only one parent has tourettes the baby has a 50 per cent chance of developing it too.
‘I feel bad for him already. But at least if it does happen I'll be able to help him through it.’
Miss Hagel also told of her own experiences with the disorder and how she wants to raise awareness to educate people about tourettes.
She said: ‘At first it was fine. I developed the ticks and I was diagnosed when I was 14.
‘Other students at my school were fine with it once the teachers explained what was wrong with me.
‘But then I moved schools and people were not so understanding. Some would even come up to me and say 'what's wrong with you'.
‘I couldn't explain in detail to each person what was going on and it was very frustrating.
‘I just want people to know what tourettes is and that people who suffer with it are normal like anyone else.’
Changes: It is thought that pregancy hormones may have triggered the bizarre development of her condition
A spokesperson from Tourette's UK said: ‘Research is unclear with regards to the effect of pregnancy on Tourette's – indeed in some women, improvements in tic severity have been reported but not in others.
‘The physiological effect of pregnancy may have had some effect on tic severity but it is really hard to know without formally assessing tics before and after pregnancy.’