Pediatric and Adolescent Headache

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Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW

This article provides the practicing neurologist with a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to the diagnosis and management of headache in children and adolescents, with a focus on migraine.

RECENT FINDINGS

Four triptans are now labeled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acute migraine treatment in adolescents, and rizatriptan is labeled for use in children age 6 and older. For preventive migraine treatment, the Childhood and Adolescent Migraine Prevention trial demonstrated that approximately 60% of children and adolescents with migraine will improve with a three-pronged treatment approach that includes: (1) lifestyle management counseling (on sleep, exercise, hydration, caffeine, and avoidance of meal skipping); (2) optimally dosed acute therapy, specifically nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and triptans; and (3) a preventive treatment that has some evidence for efficacy. For the remaining 40% of children and adolescents, and for those who would not have qualified for the Childhood and Adolescent Migraine Prevention trial because of having continuous headache or medication-overuse headache, the clinician’s judgment remains the best guide to preventive therapy selection.

SUMMARY

Randomized placebo-controlled trials have been conducted to guide first-line acute and preventive migraine treatments in children and adolescents. Future research is needed to guide treatment for those with more refractory migraine, as well as for children and adolescents who have other primary headache disorders.

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