Migraines Tied to Childhood Adversity

Childhood adversity could raise risk of migraines and strokes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Women who had a difficult childhood appear to be more prone to suffering migraines or chronic daily headaches once they become adults.

Adult women that suffered trauma as a child such as abuse or neglect could be at an added risk of developing other inflammatory diseases or strokes.

"Talk to your doctor about migraine treatment options."

Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor in Ball State University's department of physiology and health science and a faculty fellow with the university's Global Health Institute, noted that researchers found blood abnormalities in adult women with chronic daily headaches and migraines who reported experiencing abuse or a negative event as a child.

"Since migraines are a major risk factor for strokes, we may have potentially found a cause for what could be a debilitating health event for many people. The evidence supporting the biologic plausibility of this theory is growing," Khubchandani said.

During the study researchers followed 141 women between the ages of 18 and 50. Of those women, 100 suffered from headaches of various intensities, while the remainder were headache-free. Investigators collected blood and urine samples to determine the presence of various biomarkers that could indicate medical conditions.

The women also completed a 10-item adverse childhood experience questionnaire. On this form participants reported experiences that occurred before the age of 18, such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction including violence, mental illness, criminal behavior, and parent drug use or divorce.

Participants with migraines scored a significantly higher 3.24 on the questionnaire compared to an average score of 1.53 among those without headaches.

Investigators found that 79 percent of women with migraines reported adverse childhood events as compared to 21 percent of those without headaches.

Those with adverse childhoods also were more likely to report chronic daily headaches and have increased biomarkers for stroke and blood clotting.

Researchers also noted that women with more frequent migraines were more likely to identify as lower income and less educated. Also, they were more likely to have a higher body mass index and have high blood pressure.

The research was published in the April edition of the American Headache Society's journal, Headache. The research also received the Harold G. Wolff Lecture Award from the organization.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 14, 2012
Last Updated:
July 10, 2012