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Rev Neurol (Paris). 2000;156 Suppl 4:4S68-74.

[Migraine and chronic headache in children].

[Article in French]

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Unité Fonctionnelle d'Analgésie Pédiatrique. Hôpital d'enfants Armand Trousseau, 26 avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter, 75571 Paris cedex 12, France.


In childhood and adolescence, migraine is the main essential chronic headache. This diagnosis is extensively underestimated and misdiagnosed in pediatric population. Lacks of specific biologic marker, specific investigation or brain imaging reduce these clinical entities too often to a psychological illness. Migraine is a severe headache evolving by stereotyped crises associated with marked digestive symptoms (nausea and vomiting); throbbing pain, sensitivity to sound, light are usual symptoms; the attack is sometimes preceded by a visual or sensory aura. During attacks, pain intensity is severe, most of children must lie down. Abdominal pain is frequently associated, rest brings relief and sleep ends often the attack. The prevalence of the migraine varies between 5p.100 and 10p.100 in childhood. At childhood, headache duration is quite often shorter than in adult population, it is more often frontal, bilateral (2/3 of cases) that one-sided. Migraine is a disabling illness: children with migraine lost more school days in a school year, than a matched control group. Migraine episodes are frequently triggered by several factors: emotional stress (school pressure, vexation, excitement: upset), hypoglycemia, lack of sleep or excess (week end migraine), sensorial stimulation (loud noise, bright light, strong odor, heat or cold.), sympathetic stimulation (sport, physical exercise). Attack treatments must be given at the early beginning of the crisis; oral dose of ibuprofen (10mg/kg) is recommended. If the oral route in not available when nausea or vomiting occurs, the rectal or nasal routes have then to be used. Non pharmacological treatments (biofeedback and interventions combining progressive muscle relaxation) have shown to have good efficacy as prophylactic measure. Daily prophylactic pharmacological treatments are prescribed in second line after failure of non-pharmacological treatment.

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