Children with migraines more prone to behavior issues

By Sheryl Kay • Published: December 4th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It can begin with seeing a flash of light, or maybe a tingling sensation coupled with unusual tiredness. Then the pounding begins.

Migraines can be profound and debilitating, and adults are not alone in suffering these most excruciating headaches. Up to one-fifth of kids in their early childhood to adolescent years have been diagnosed with migraines.

Past studies found that these young sufferers were likely to have other psychological and physical problems, including depression and anxiety. Now research shows a correlation between migraines and behavioral problems in children, too.

Just published in the journal Cephalagia (seff-uh-LULL-gia), the study involved more than eighteen hundred children ages 5 to 11 in a first-of-its-kind investigation into how children’s emotional issues correlate with migraines and tension-type headaches. The study also incorporated data on headache frequency.

After analyzing the results, the researchers found that children suffering from migraines had a much greater overall likelihood of abnormal behavioral than the kids with no headache history, especially relating to anxiety-depressive, social and attention-related disorders. While less than a fifth of control subjects had these types of behavior issues, over half of migraine sufferers were affected. Children with tension-type headaches faced similar diagnoses as the migraine sufferers, but not as often. Frequency of headaches was important as well. The more headaches a child had, the more likely they were to have abnormal scores on the behavior scale.

While the study did not address specific remedies, the researchers say health care providers should be aware of these correlations in children with migraines. The more docs know, the more they can anticipate and properly address any behavioral issues that may arise.