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Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2215-24.

Practice parameter: pharmacological treatment of migraine headache in children and adolescents: report of the American Academy of Neurology Quality Standards Subcommittee and the Practice Committee of the Child Neurology Society.

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Division of Child Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, USA.



To review evidence on the pharmacologic treatment of the child with migraine headache.


The authors reviewed, abstracted, and classified relevant literature. Recommendations were based on a four-tiered scheme of evidence classification. Treatment options were separated into medications for acute headache and preventive medications.


The authors identified and reviewed 166 articles. For acute treatment, five agents were reviewed. Sumatriptan nasal spray and ibuprofen are effective and are well tolerated vs placebo. Acetaminophen is probably effective and is well tolerated vs placebo. Rizatriptan and zolmitriptan were safe and well tolerated but were not superior to placebo. For preventive therapy, 12 agents were evaluated. Flunarizine is probably effective. The data concerning cyproheptadine, amitriptyline, divalproex sodium, topiramate, and levetiracetam were insufficient. Conflicting data were found concerning propranolol and trazodone. Pizotifen, nimodipine, and clonidine did not show efficacy.


For children (>age 6 years), ibuprofen is effective and acetaminophen is probably effective and either can be considered for the acute treatment of migraine. For adolescents (>12 years of age), sumatriptan nasal spray is effective and should be considered for the acute treatment of migraine. For preventive therapy, flunarizine is probably effective and can be considered, but is not available in the United States. There are conflicting or insufficient data to make any other recommendations for the preventive therapy of migraine in children and adolescents. For a clinical problem so prevalent in children and adolescents, there is a disappointing lack of evidence from controlled, randomized, and masked trials.

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