Children and Migraines

Presentation courtesy of Diamond Headache Clinic.

As the slideshow above indicates children can present differently with migraines. It can present as Abdominal Migraines, for example. Even when migraines run in your family it can be easy to miss the indications of a child having signs of Abdominal Migraines, unless you yourself experienced the same thing as a child.

It is difficult to diagnose as well and is based on medical history, migraines in the family and a process of elimination.

Treatment is also a complicated issue since we are dealing with children. It is definitely something that is considered carefully and is very dependent on frequency and age. For older children, who do get them frequently, they are treated with the same preventatives as other migraines.

A study at the University of Alabama in Mobile found that migraines in children didn’t last as long as they did in adults. The pain in kids appears to occur rapidly, become intense quickly and typically last between one hour and three days. Children more often had pain all over their heads, instead of on one side – which is more common in adults. Young people also complain of abdominal pain and motion sickness – which might be a sign of abdominal migraine in children. Abdominal migraine, often a precursor to migraines, happens frequently in toddlers, children and teenagers. 

So in general, that is what we are looking for prevalence of childhood migraines. Often, there is indications of family history. Sometimes the migraines will stop and then reoccur in life. However, I have heard a lot of stories of people starting in childhood and never stopping. For myself, I don't know if I had indications of childhood migraine. It is undiagnosed quite often. I did have issues with motion sickness. And headaches. Motion sickness studies have shown in children can lead to migraines later on as well, which I suspect is the case with me. My brother had migraines and cluster headaches younger than me from what I recall.

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