Which foods are associated with migraine in children?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019
  • Author: William C Robertson, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Amy Kao, MD  more...
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An estimated 20-50% of migraineurs are sensitive to certain foods. These dietary triggers may provoke a migraine attack. Helping the child learn to recognize and avoid these triggers is helpful but often difficult. A headache diary can be useful for identifying triggers; a pattern often emerges after 6-8 weeks. Note that some patients inappropriately use the diary to create elaborate, restrictive diets that could harm normal growth and development.

Substances that may precipitate migraine include prostaglandin E and the vasoactive amines tyramine and phenylethylamine. Foods such as chocolate, cheese, and red wine are known to contain these compounds and often initiate migraine in adults. Diet and foods containing vasoactive amines appear to be much less important in children.


Patients with low levels of phenolsulfotransferase P are believed to be sensitive to dietary monoamines such as tyramine and phenylethylamine. Cultured dairy products (eg, aged cheese, sour cream, buttermilk), chocolate, and citrus fruits are believed to cause vasodilation in predisposed individuals.

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