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Migraine more common in teens from low-income families
Migraine more common in teens from low-income families

July 6, 2007 (Insidermedicine) A higher family income may protect some teens from migraine, according to research published in the journal Neurology.

Migraine headache is now recognized as a neurological disorder involving changes that occur in the central nervous system. Attacks begin when the central nervous system is exposed to “triggers”, which can vary from person to person and can include certain foods, environmental changes, too much or too little sleep, menstruation in women, or changes in routine. Characteristic symptoms of migraine include one-sided head pain, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines affect about seven to 10% of children and adolescents by age 15. Disability from headaches can be significant, with many days lost from school or play.

Previous studies have shown that low-income adults have a higher prevalence of migraine, and this is thought to be linked to associated stress, poor diet, and limited access to medical care.

To assess the link between income and migraine in young people, researchers surveyed more than 18,000 American teens about headache. They separated the study population into groups based on income and family history of migraine.

They found that a little more than 6% of teens reported migraine, girls had a higher prevalence than boys, and migraine was more common in whites than in blacks.

Children from families with an annual household income of $90,000 or more were half as likely to have migraine as those with a household income less than $22,500. However, this was only true for teens with no family history of migraine. Income had no influence on teens that had family relatives with migraine.

The findings suggest that environmental risk factors associated with low income increase the prevalence of migraine. Addressing factors such as nutrition, stress, and disparities in treatment patterns may help reduce the prevalence of migraine in low-income families.

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.