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17-04-2013 | Gastroenterology | Article

Infant colic implicated in childhood migraines


Free abstract

medwireNews: Infants who suffer from colic are more likely to experience migraine, but not tension headaches, in later childhood and adolescence than those who do not, show study results published in JAMA.

"We found that among migraine characteristics, only pulsatile pain was more frequent in children with a history of infantile colic than among children with migraine but without infantile colic," write Luigi Titomanlio (Paris Diderot University, France) and colleagues.

"Infants with colic might experience a similar sensitization of the perivascular nerve terminals in the gut, although this hypothesis needs to be tested," they suggest.

Titomanlio and team recruited 208 children aged 6-18 years who presented at three European emergency departments (EDs) with migraine between April and June 2012, and 471 children without migraine but of a similar age who presented to the EDs with minor trauma in the same time period (controls). In addition, 120 children with tension headaches were enrolled separately for comparison purposes. History of infantile colic was assessed by questionnaire.

Children with migraine were 6.61-fold more likely to have experienced infantile colic than those without migraine, at 72.6% versus 26.5%. Presence or absence of aura with migraine did not significantly influence the association, with 5.73- and 7.01-fold risk increases for migraine with and without aura, respectively.

No significant difference in the frequency of infantile colic was seen between those with tension headaches and controls, however, with respective rates of 35.0% versus 26.5%.

Regarding the link between colic and migraine, the authors write that "longitudinal studies are needed to explore the association further."

Writing in an accompanying editorial, Leon Epstein and Phyllis Zee (Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA) say that "if colic is an early form of migraine, this suggests that migraine disorders may represent a continuum from colic in infancy to cyclic vomiting syndrome in young children to childhood and adult migraine."

They add: "The expanding knowledge of the genetics and pathophysiology of migraine may be applicable to these age-specific clinical presentations and offer the potential for new, empirical therapies."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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