What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Mommy, I Have A Headache

The First Headache Can Happen During Infancy

Research in the area of migraine headaches has indicated that migraines are probably genetically based and that if one parent has migraines, there's at least a 50 percent chance that a child will have the disease as well, despite the fact that symptoms may not be apparent for many years. More than half of adult migraine sufferers have reported that they had their first migraine before the age of 15 and nearly a third of children who have migraines can remember having them before they were five years old.

When it comes to infants, the questions abound. Since there is little understanding of how infants relate to pain (we know they do experience pain), the observation of behavior patterns is the most effective way of determining whether infants have migraines. There is some evidence that infants as young as four months of age have them, and for certain, children at the age of two have them.

There's A Difference In The Way Symptoms Manifest In Children

Children's symptoms can vary greatly from adult migraines and some parents make the mistake of assuming that when a child complains of feeling sick-as many child migraine sufferers do-that the child is just vying for attention. Often, children do not know how to describe a headache. They may simply say they feel sick or that their head hurts. They may have pain on one side of the head or on both sides. Things to look for when a migraine is suspected are nausea and a change in behavior or temperament (sudden or unusual temper or sadness). About 25 percent of children who have migraines experience aura-often a visual disturbance-in the early stages of the headache.

Adults Tend To Ignore A Child's Plight

Merle Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic has brought to light some evidence that car sickness in children may indicate a predisposition to migraine. It is also estimated by the Migraine Action Association in the UK that 10 percent of school age children there suffer from migraine. Of those, 85 percent miss nearly two weeks of school a year and 57 percent say their teachers don't understand. 53 percent of these children said their doctors don't understand either!

Things A Parent Can Do To Help Their Child And The Doctor

When headaches are persistent or a child seems to be dealing with some or all of the symptoms of migraine, or if the pain is something new that cannot be traced, see a doctor. There is information a parent can provide which will help the doctor determine a course of action. Some things to record or make note of include the length of time the headaches last and the frequency of them. Is there a trigger that sets the headache into motion-certain foods, stress, noise, light? Where is the pain and what does it feel like to the child? Note any other symptoms such as sensitivity to light or noise, nausea or vomiting and take note of any other patterns which occur at the same time that the pain occurs.

By recording the symptoms and watching closely for patterns, the doctor will have more information upon which to base a diagnosis and offer treatment.