The Juvenile Head Trauma Syndrome: A Trauma Triggered Migraine?

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The underlying mechanism of the juvenile head trauma syndrome (JHTS) is still uncertain, but it has been suggested that there is a role in cortical spreading depression, a phenomenon that is assumed to be a part of the pathophysiology of migraine.


We postulate that children affected by the JHTS are more susceptible to cortical spreading depression, caused by a genetic etiology similar to genetic factors in migraine.


Children with the JHTS were selected and evaluated retrospectively in an observational case-control study in two Dutch trauma centers in the period between January 2008 and July 2012.


We included 33 patients with the JHTS, who were accounted for approximately 2.5% of the total number (1,342) of children seen at the emergency department with a mild head trauma. The prevalence of migraine in cases compared with controls did not differ. The proportion of patients with a first-degree relative with migraine was significantly higher in cases compared with controls (odds ratio, 2.69; 95% confidence interval, 1.16-6.22; p = 0.010).


The JHTS is a relatively rare phenomenon, seen in approximately 2.5% of all children seen at the emergency department with mild brain injury. This study demonstrates a significant relationship between the JHTS and a positive history of migraine in first-degree relatives.

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