Impact of Parental Migraine on Adolescent Children

mother with headache and child jumping in background
mother with headache and child jumping in background
Social, academic, and emotional effects for adolescents that live with parents with migraine were assessed by investigators.

Migraine in parents has a deleterious effect on their adolescent children, according to a longitudinal study led by Dawn C Buse, PhD, of the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, and published in Headache.

The researchers conducted a longitudinal Web-based study called the Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes (CaMEO) study with cross-sectional modules that assessed an array of migraine-related outcomes, including migraine symptoms, severity, frequency, and disability; migraine-related consulting practices; health care utilization; medication use; comorbid health conditions; and family-related burden associated with migraine.

They used the Family Burden Module adolescent version from the CaMEO study to assess parents with migraine as well as adolescent household members (age 13-21 years) who were living at home with their parents. The Family Burden Module adolescent version surveyed 36 items across 4 domains: loss of parental support and reverse caregiving (5 items), emotional experience (13 items), interference with school (4 items), and missed activities and events (14 items).

In addition, depression and anxiety were assessed using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, respectively.

The item responses were stratified by parent migraine status (episodic migraine, defined as <15 headache days/month and chronic migraine, defined as ≥15 headache days/month). Frequencies of activities/events missed because of parental headache were categorized as ≥1 time or ≥4 times in the previous 30 days.

The final sample consisted of 1411 parents with migraine and adolescent household members (parent with episodic migraines, n=1243 [88.1%]; parent with chronic migraines, n=168 [11.9%]). Adolescents whose parent had chronic migraines reported a greater burden than those with a parent who had episodic migraines. Rates of moderate to severe anxiety symptoms were higher among adolescents of parents with chronic migraine (6.2% vs 11.3%, P =.01). By contrast, moderate to severe depression symptom rates were similar (5.5% vs 8.9%, P =.08). More adolescents of parents with chronic than with episodic migraine reported having a headache within the previous 3 months (P <.001).

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“Parental migraine negatively impacts adolescent children, extending our understanding of the family burden of migraine and emphasizing the potential benefit to children of optimizing migraine care,” the researchers concluded.

They added, “These results highlight the pervasive impact of a parent’s migraine on a wide range of important life domains, experiences, and emotions in adolescent youths and, together with spouse/partner data, provide additional context to better understand the full scope of the burden of migraine on the entire family.”


Buse DC, Powers SW, Gelfand AA, et al. Adolescent perspectives on the burden of a parent’s migraine: Results from the CaMEO Study [published online January 22, 2018]. Headache. doi:10.1111/head.13254