Migraines May Affect Children's School Performance, Study Suggests

How Migraines Could Affect Your Child's School Performance

Kids who get migraines do worse in school than kids who don't, according to a large new study in the journal Neurology.

The study, conducted by Merck & Co., Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Glia Institute researchers, showed that kids who get migraines have a 30 percent increased risk of sub-par school performance.

The findings suggest that "parents and teachers need to take these headaches seriously and make sure children get appropriate medical attention and treatment," study researcher Dr. Marcelo E. Bigal, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement.

A migraine is a neurological headache condition that often includes nausea, light and sound sensitivity and an intense pounding feeling in part of the head. Some also come with an aura or arm/leg tingling, though not all do, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The study included 5,471 kids from Brazil who are between the ages of 5 and 12. Their parents answered questionnaires about the children's health and headache history, and their teachers also answered a questionnaire about behavioral or emotional problems the kids may have.

Among all the children, 17.6 percent of them had "probable migraines" -- meaning they didn't meet the diagnostic criteria for other headache conditions, but they did not fully meet the diagnostic criteria for a migraine -- and 9 percent had episodic migraines. A little more than half of 1 percent had what is called "chronic migraines," which is when you have migraines for at least 15 days each month.

The researchers found that the worse the migraines, the stronger the correlation with school performance.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, 2 percent of kids age 7 and younger have experienced a migraine, with that percentage increasing to 10 percent by the time a child reaches age 15.

In 2010, the New York Times reported that migraines in kids are often overlooked and not taken that seriously.

"In many areas people just don't think kids can get migraines," Dr. Andrew Hershey, a professor of pediatrics and neurology and the director of the headache center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, told the New York Times. "But kids shouldn't be missing activities and having trouble at school because they’re having headaches. If it happens, it shouldn't be ignored."

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