It was thought at one time that children could not have migraines and that the typical age for migraines to begin was 17. Children, even young children, can have and do have migraines. Children who have migraines have usually inherited the tendency from their parents. These headaches may appear in about one quarter of these children by age five and about half before the age of 20. Before puberty boys are slightly more likely than girls to get migraines. After puberty migraines are more common in girls because of hormone changes.
Migraines will cause throbbing pain and are nearly always accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Pain may be on both sides of the head. Abdominal migraines, a variant of migraines, often occurs in children. The “stomachache” and nausea is usually relieved by a nap. However, migraine in a child may be as short as one hour or can last a day or so. Children with abdominal migraines usually develop “typical” migraines as adults.
Triggers for migraines must be identified to reduce the frequency and intensity of the headaches. Regular routines for eating, exercise, and sleeping must remain constant throughout the year. For some children relaxation and stress management techniques are helpful as is biofeedback. There are some medications that do help. Analgesics may help with the pain. Triptans approved for children may abort migraines. As with any technique, some methods are helpful for childhood migraines; others are not.