What are migraines in children?

Updated: Jan 31, 2018
  • Author: William C Robertson, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Amy Kao, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Migraine is a common disorder in children. Estimates indicate that 3.5-5% of all children will experience recurrent headaches consistent with migraine. As in adults, most children (approximately 60%) have migraine without aura. Approximately 18% have only migraine with aura, 13% have both, and 5% experience only aura.

Migraines are incapacitating, throbbing headaches frequently located in the temples or frontal head regions. In children, the headaches are often bilateral (frontotemple) and may be nonthrobbing. Aura is infrequent prior to age 8 years. During the migraine episode, the child often looks ill and pale. Nausea and vomiting are frequent, particularly in young children. Patients avoid light (photophobia), noise (phonophobia), strong odors, and movement. Relief typically follows sleep.

Initial evaluation focuses on excluding other conditions. Management consists of identifying triggering factors, providing pain relief, and considering prophylaxis.


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