It’s Not Easy for the Children of Migraine Sufferers

It’s Not Easy for the Children of Migraine Sufferers

 By Ed Coghlan

A chronic migraine sufferer with adolescent children has to worry about than the migraine.  Researchers are reporting that adolescent children of a parent with Chronic Migraine (CM) are impacted even more significantly than those with a parent who has episodic migraine (EM)

Adolescent children of a parent with migraine are negatively affected in many important areas of their lives and those with a parent with Chronic Migraine (CM) are impacted even more significantly than adolescents with a parent who has episodic migraines (EM).

The study was presented at the recent annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society in San Diego.

Chronic Migraine is a neurological condition characterized by 15 or more headache days per month, with headaches lasting four hours a day or longer, and at least eight of those headache days being associated with migraine, while Episodic Migraine is defined as migraine with less than fifteen headache or migraine days per month.

“Parents with Chronic Migraine are not the only ones whose lives are negatively impacted.  Even though they may not be experiencing the physical symptoms of migraine, their parent’s migraine affects many important aspects of life for adolescent children as well,” said study lead author Dawn C. Buse, Ph.D., director of Behavioral Medicine, Montefiore Headache Center and associate professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “While these results are very sad, there are a range of resources available to help treat migraine and also to help families cope with the effects of migraine. Our hope in publishing these results is that more families will seek help from medical professionals.”

Researchers surveyed adolescents and young adults (aged 13-21 years) living with a parent with CM and EM to assess the impact of parental migraine on family/social/school activities and well-being. This is the first time a study surveyed children directly about their perspectives on the burden of their parent’s migraine.

Across the board, adolescents with a parent with CM perceived a far greater impact on their well-being and daily lives than those with a parent with EM. Rates of moderate to severe anxiety were almost twice as high among offspring of parents with CM (11.3%) versus EM (6.2%). Those adolescents were also much more likely to report difficulty concentrating on schoolwork (36.0% CM vs 16.0% EM) and inability to get help from their parent when they needed it (50.0% CM vs 27.0% EM) specifically due to the parent’s migraine. Additionally, those with a parent with CM were significantly more likely than those with an EM parent to miss school activities, social events and family outings due to their parent’s migraine.

“Directly surveying the adolescent children of parents with migraine was an important step in fully comprehending and underscoring the devastating consequences of parental migraine on the entire family,” said Richard B. Lipton, M.D., CaMEO Study primary investigator, study senior author and director of Montefiore Headache Center and vice chair of neurology, as well as the Edwin S. Lowe Chair in Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Next, we are developing the ‘Impact of Migraine on Partners and Children Scale (IMPACS)’ to help quantify the family burden of migraine. We hope that improved diagnosis, treatment and enhanced recognition of the burden associated with migraine leads to healthier lives for all family members,” he concluded.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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@ Layla Rose

Mind your own business. You have no idea what it is like to live with a migraine disorder, and you also have no idea how good of a parent she can be with a migraine disorder. Just because you have concerns or think it is irresponsible doesn’t mean that it is. Who are you to decide that for anyone? You are not being supportive, you are fear-mongering, and you are sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Most women tend to get better, especially after menopause and hormone changes after giving birth. If you are so concerned and her friend, then offer to help, but don’t tell her she doesn’t have the right to have children, as not only are you wrong, you are being cruel and selfish with your comments. I hope you did not send this to her. Mind your own business and don’t ever try and tell someone when they are allowed to be a parent.


Well said Lucy!!!!


The survey by the researchers are very helpful and migraine can make life terrible to misrable. I have read hear that it can also cause heart conditions read:

Jean Price

I can’t imagine they need to do a study on this? Wouldn’t it seem likely? And isn’t this true of all of us with life limiting pain? Our families are part of both the support we have and the people we impact most. The boundaries they live with because of us, the decrease in income due to pain, the stress in the household, all the negative effects of pain on the patient carry over to their families! It’s true of most debilitating dieases like MS or cancer or ALS!! It’s something to work on, and to have help with when you need it…so families don’t fall apart from pain and kids don’t suffer the fallout of parents who are stressed beyond their limits. I guess they study what they find funds for, but it seems to me this is money better spent on treatment issues of migraines.

Wow! I wish I could share this w/my BF, as she’s just announced that she’s expecting a 2nd little one, her son is 15, but I don’t think she should go through with it at all. She has so many health problems, only one of which is severe migraines. It seems, for the time being at least, that her other health problems have been sort of put on hold by her body. Like some sort of remission during preganancy. Maybe it’s the hormones. But the longer it goes on the more I worry that the negative impacts that will happen after may be even worse than they were with her son. She has become a few steps away from needing to be in a bubble her allergies are so bad. She eats very well. Only whole foods, takes high quality vatimins & herbs, & does everything that she can to improve and/or cope. But having a kid and bringing her/him into this situation just seems really irresponsible to me. I’m probably not going to send this to her since it will seem like I’m not being supportive, pressuring her, fearmongering, and/or being just as negative as her family who are all touting their concerns over Downs. She’s only 37, so the chances are very low. But that’s not the only factor. Sorry fot the rant and ramble. I just don’t have very many places/people to vent to about my concerns, not just for her welfare, but the welfare of the person she may be creating.

William Young MD

These findings are true and important.
But please don’t call others with migraine sufferers. That is information about the internal emotional state of the person with migraine that they can use to describe themselves, but we should never use to describe others. How can we know this about anybody else?


This study and report quickly put me on the defensive. My initial reactions ranged from increasing the guilt I already have as a CM and parent of three to wondering if we really needed this study to point out what we already know? As a mental health therapist who used questionnaires to assess levels of depression, anxiety, daily functioning, and a myriad of other things, I find the need for a questionnaire about how a parent’s migraine affects his/her children redundant. The goal of encouraging parents to seek effective treatment is noble, but would dare guess most have already sought to find effective treatment(s). I cannot speak for others, but personally, it’s not a lack of seeking effective treatment that has caused missed events and inability to work. It is the lack of finding effective treatment(s) (I have tried over 100 medicinal & non-medicinal ones) over the past 14 years of daily migraines that has left me attending my kids’ events nauseous, in pain and cringing at noise. I believe the resources used in this study would be better utilized in researching new treatments and raising awareness/money for research and advocacy, so the impact can be minimized in a positive manner for both children and their parent(s).