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Neurology. 2013 Jul 30;81(5):431-6. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829d872a. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Cranial autonomic symptoms in pediatric migraine are the rule, not the exception.

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Division of Child Neurology, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



The presence of cranial autonomic symptoms often leads to a misdiagnosis of "sinus headache" in adult migraineurs, leading to unnecessary treatments and delaying appropriate migraine therapy. In this study, we examined the frequency of cranial autonomic symptoms in pediatric/adolescent patients with migraine.


This cross-sectional study included all pediatric and adolescent patients with migraine evaluated by a single investigator at 4 different sites over the course of the study period.


Of 125 pediatric migraineurs, 62% had at least one cranial autonomic symptom based on current International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition (ICHD-II) criteria, and 70% based on proposed ICHD-III criteria. The majority had more than one cranial autonomic symptom and the symptoms tended to be bilateral. Age, sex, laterality of headache, presence of aura, and whether migraine was episodic vs chronic did not influence the likelihood of having cranial autonomic symptoms.


In pediatric/adolescent migraine, the presence of cranial autonomic symptoms appears to be the rule rather than the exception. Clinicians should be careful to consider migraine when evaluating a child with headache and associated ocular or nasal symptoms so as to avoid giving a misdiagnosis of sinus headache.

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