Symptoms of childhood migraine headaches

Symptoms of childhood migraine headaches

  • Migraine headaches in children are common (prevalence of 1% to 3% in 3- to 7-year-olds and almost 25% of adolescents).
  • Fifty percent of all individuals who develop migraine had the onset of their attacks before 20 years of age.
  • Boys are more frequently affected until puberty, after which time the incidence is considerably higher in girls.
  • Younger children usually complain of a generalized, bifrontal, or bitemporal headache, rather than the hemicranial pain characteristically present in the older child or adult.
  • Abdominal distress with nausea and sometimes vomiting is prominent.
  • The child often appears pale and frequently stops all activities and lies down.
  • Photophobia and phonophobia are usually present but may need to be inferred from behavior in younger children.
  • If the child is able to fall asleep, the headache is usually gone upon awakening.
  • Family history for migraine is positive in 70% to 90% of cases.


  • Dravet C, Oguni H: Dravet syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy in infancy). Handb Clin Neuro 111:627-633, 2013. 
  • Kolkiran A, Tutar E, Atalay S, et al: Autonomic nervous system functions in children with breath-holding spells and effects of iron deficiency. Acta Paediatr 94:1227-1231, 2005. 
  • Maytal J, Young M, Shechter A, Lipton RB: Pediatric migraine and the International Headache Society Criteria. Neurology 48:602-607, 1997.

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