Pattern Found in Menstrual Migraines

Monday, March 02, 2009

A study published in the March issue of Headache, the journal of the American Headache Society, could lead to better treatments for teens and adults who have menstrual migraines. The study, conducted by a physician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, finds that in girls with a monthly pattern of headaches, the migraines typically occur between two days prior to the menstrual period and three days after it starts.

In addition, many girls between the ages of 9 and 12 who had not yet begun menstruation report a monthly pattern of headaches.

Early identification of this predictable pattern may be of long-term benefit, according to Andrew Hershey, MD, PhD, director of the Headache Center at Cincinnati Children's and senior author of the study.

"There are no data on targeted treatments of menstrual migraine in adolescents," says Dr. Hershey. "We need studies to investigate the differences between menstrual and non-menstrual migraines, so that effective treatments can be developed."

Dr. Hershey and colleagues at the Headache Center studied 896 girls between the ages of 9 and 18. About half of those who had begun their menstrual periods and 37 percent of all girls said they had headaches during their menstrual periods. Of those reporting a pattern of headaches associated with their periods, nearly 64 percent reported migraines starting two days before their menstrual period to three days after their menstrual period had begun.

Girls with menstrual migraine also reported increased symptoms compared to girls who didn't have menstrual migraines. Some 160 girls reported a monthly pattern to their headaches prior to beginning menstruation, which suggests a "menstrually-related migraine pattern" prior to menstruation, according to Dr. Hershey.

"By recognizing that adolescent girls experience menstrual pattern to their migraines, practitioners are able to formulate treatment plans for girls," says Dr. Hershey. "The predictive nature of menstrual migraines makes treatment to prevent them from occurring an effective option."

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of America's top three children's hospitals for general pediatrics and is highly ranked for its expertise in digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care and neurosurgery, according to the annual ranking of best children's hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. One of the three largest children's hospitals in the U.S., Cincinnati Children's is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

For its achievements in transforming healthcare, Cincinnati Children's is one of six U.S. hospitals since 2002 to be awarded the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize ® for leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The hospital is a national and international referral center for complex cases, so that children with the most difficult-to-treat diseases and conditions receive the most advanced care leading to better outcomes.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656,