Migraines In Kids

April 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Headache, stomachache or frequent trips to the school nurse?Pittsburgh (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Doctors say it's very likely the sudden, intense pain in your child's head is not his or her imagination.

14-year-old Kassie Adams' early childhood also included some memories she could have done without -- sudden headaches that continue to crop up even today.

"It comes on very quickly," Kassie told Ivanhoe. "One minute you're OK, the next minute, you have a pounding headache."

Kassie's been hospitalized eight times and has missed weeks of school.

"You know, I can't sit during school with a horrible headache," Kassie said.

Her doctors diagnosed her with migraine -- a painful, often debilitating headache.

Nate Bennett, M.D., a certified headache medicine subspecialist from Preferred Primary Care Physicians in Pittsburgh, says migraines are more common in kids than most of us think.

About 10 percent of kids under age 12 have migraines compared to about 12 percent of adults and teens. The biggest difference? A child's migraine may last only 15 or 20 minutes instead of several hours.

"That's one of the reasons kids are misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all, because it does last a short period of time," Dr. Bennett told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Bennett says parents should take note if their child complains of more than one or two headaches a month or headaches with nausea.

"A child that's in the nurse's office a lot is a red flag because there are things that are bothering them," Dr. Bennett said. "Kids that have a lot of bellyaches, that can be migraine."

Kassie's doctors prescribed a nasal spray that helps keep the pain under wraps. After years of missing school, Kassie is finally getting back on track.

Migraines are genetic. There is evidence to suggest that colic in babies may be infantile migraine.

Dr. Bennett says it is crucial for doctors to catch children's migraines early, because left untreated, they may continue to increase in severity and duration.

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