How does the prevalence of migraine headache vary by sex and age?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Approximately 75% of all persons who experience migraines are women. Currently, 1 in 6 American women has migraine headaches. (The reported incidence of migraine in females of reproductive age has increased over the last 20 years, but this change probably reflects greater awareness of the condition.)

The incidence of migraine with aura peaks in boys at around age 5 years and in girls at around age 12–13 years. The incidence of migraine without aura peaks in boys at age 10-11 years and in girls at age 14–17 years. [57]

Before puberty, the prevalence and incidence of migraine are higher in boys than in girls. After age 12 years, the prevalence increases in males and females, reaching a peak at age 30–40 years. The female-to-male ratio increases from 2.5:1 at puberty to 3.5:1 at age 40 years. Attacks usually decrease in severity and frequency after age 40 years, except for women in perimenopause. A study by Hsu et al suggests that women aged 40–50 years are also more susceptible to migrainous vertigo. [58] Onset of migraine after age 50 years is rare.


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