Washington: Adolescents who get to early puberty can also have greater chances of developing migraine headaches, researchers suggest.
"We know that the percentage of girls and boys who have migraine is mostly the same until the menstruation begins. When menstruation begins with girls, the prevalence goes up, but what our data suggests is that it's happening well before that, "said Vincent Martin, one of the researchers in the study.
About 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines, according to a study presented at the American Headache Society. As adolescence approaches, the incidence of migraine increases rapidly in girls, and up to 17 years, about 8% of boys and 23% of girls have had migraine.
Girls were between the ages of 8 and 20, and the study took place over a period of 10 years, starting in 2004. Girls who were included in the study at the age of 8-10 years were examined during a study visit every six to 12 months. The researchers found out when they showed the initial signs of severe (breast development), pubarcha (pubic hair growth) and menarche (beginning of the menstrual period).
The girls responded to the headache questionnaire to find out if they are suffering from a migraine headache, no migraine or a likely migraine, and the latter is defined as if it meets all the diagnostic criteria for migraine other than one. The average age at which the survey was completed is 16 years.
Of the examinees, 85 girls (11%) had a diagnosis of migraine, while 53 (7%) had a likely migraine, and 623 (82%) had no migraine.
The researchers found that girls with migraine had an earlier age (breast development) and the onset of menarche (menstruation) than those without a migraine.
On average, breast-feeding occurred four months earlier in those with migraine, while menstruation started five months earlier. There was no difference in age of pubarchea (development of pubic hair) between those with migraine and without migraine.
"The chances of migraine for each year have been an increase of 25 percent that the girl has experienced either a strong or a menarh. This suggests a strong relationship between early puberty and the development of migraine in adolescents, "said Susan Pinney, lead researcher at the study.
The age of severe, pubaric or menarche did not differ between those with likely migraine and migraine, Pinney said.
Previous research suggests that migraine often begins with the onset of the menstrual cycle during menopause. However, this study deals with earlier stages of puberty, such as thelar and pubarche, Martin explained.
"To suggest that the origin of the migraine may occur before the menstruation begins, it is quite new. In each of these phases, different hormones appear in girls. During pubarche, testosterone and androgen are present, and during the severe period, the first exposure to estrogen occurs. Menarche is when a mature hormone pattern appears. Our study implies that the first estrogen exposure can be the starting point for migraine in some adolescents. It can be a theory of a large migraine burst, "said Martin.