Sensory Processing Difficulties Affect HRQoL in Children With Migraines

Researchers posited that there are correlations in sensory processing abilities, headache-related disability characteristics, and health-related quality of life in pediatric migraines.

In children with migraine, sensory processing difficulties are shown to be correlated with a reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in comparison with healthy children, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neurology.

The researchers of this study sought to understand the relationship between sensory processing abilities, headache-related disability characteristics, and HRQoL in children with migraine. The researchers recruited 134 pediatric patients (54 with episodic migraine and 80 healthy controls) ranging from 8 to 12 years of age to complete their health assessment, which included a Short Sensory Profile (SSP), a Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, and, for the migraine group, a PedMIDAS to asses headache-related disabilities.

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The investigators performed a series of statistical analyses to compare the 2 groups of children. Using a Mann-Whitney test and Chi square analysis to analyze the children’s SSP, the investigators found children with migraine had lower scores across all categories, but only in the taste/smell sensitivity was the difference between the 2 groups significant (P ≤.001). Also, a higher percentage of children with migraine were found in the definite difference performance range (an SSP score of 38-141) in SSP total (x²=25.02; P ≤.001) and the taste/sensitivity SSP subset (x²=17.81 P ≤.001).

Children with migraine reported lower HRQoL than the control group in all of the domains, but the difference was only significant in the physical domain (P ≤.001). Through further analysis using a Spearman correlation with a Bonferroni correction, the researchers found multiple subsets of the HRQoL Inventory correlated with either the total SSP score or subsets of the SSP score (P ≤.001) indicating that lower HRQoL is in the least partially correlated to sensory processing difficulties in children with migraine. Researchers used a stepwise linear regression model to evaluate the predictive value of headache-related disability (PedMIDAS score) and SSP on HRQoL scores in children with migraine. Investigators found emotional HRQoL was significantly predicted by tactile sensitivity, accounting for 22% of the variance [F₍₁,₂₈₎=8.29; B=2.86; SE B=0.99; β=0.47, P ≤.01] and social HRQoL was significantly predicted by the PedMIDAS score, accounting for 25% of the variance [F₍₁,₂₈₎=9.71; B=−0. 32; SE B=0.11; β=−0.51, P ≤.01].

Limitations of the study include that it was performed on a population of children in tertiary pediatric clinics and not on a population of healthy children: Thus, the results of the study cannot be generalized to a population of such. Additionally, the researchers mention that they did not formally address allodynia.

The researchers concluded that, because the results show a correlation between sensory processing difficulties and HRQoL for children with migraine, these sensory processing difficulties should be screened for and treated to improve the affected children’s daily function and overall HRQoL.


Genizi J, Halevy A, Schertz M, et al. Sensory processing difficulties correlate with disease severity and quality of life among children with migraine [published online May 24, 2019]. Front Neurol. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00448