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19-05-2011 | Internal medicine | Article

Great chronic migraine burden in affected adolescents


Free abstract

MedWire News: US study results show that adolescents are greatly burdened by chronic migraine (CM), yet few seek help from healthcare providers.

"Given the substantial burden of their condition, adolescents with CM have surprisingly low rates of healthcare and medication utilization," say the authors.

Indeed, the findings, obtained from 375 US adolescents aged 12-17 years, showed that 63.3% of the participants with all-cause CM had not visited a healthcare provider in the previous year. And only 10% of those with CM unrelated to medication overuse had taken adequate pharmacologic pain relief (defined as treatment duration of 11 days or more) in the previous month.

As reported in the journal Headache, all participating adolescents completed a questionnaire, telephone interview, and a 30-day diary, from which the investigators calculated CM symptom frequency.

All-cause CM and CM unrelated to medication overuse occurred among the group at respective rates of 1.75% and 0.79%.

These rates, highlight Richard Lipton (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York) and team, are lower than those previously reported among US adults (1.40-2.20%).

In addition, Lipton et al noted a difference between adult- and adolescent-CM presentations. Specifically, the aura phase known to frequently occur in adults was reported by only 20% of the adolescents with all-cause CM.

The investigators used the Headache Impact Test and the Pediatric Migraine Disability Assessment tests to assess the impact of migraine on daily life. In doing so, they found that 70-90% of adolescents with all-cause CM reported severe impact and disability.

Irrespective of this high level of symptom burden, only 36.7% of the all-cause CM patients reported obtaining medical help for their symptoms.

The researchers also found that 60.0% of adolescents who reported having all-cause CM were aged 16-17 years, and that all-cause CM was over three times more common among women than men, with 76.7% of the reported adolescent CM cases occurring in women.

Lipton and team say that their findings indicate that the burden of adolescent CM is great but currently unaddressed.

They conclude: "The development of optimal criteria for diagnosing adolescents with CM is critical to fully understanding how medical needs can be met within this complex population."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor

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