Adult Migraine Linked To Childhood Abuse

Recent research is suggesting a link between childhood abuse and neglect and recurrent migraines later in life. A scientist from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recently released the results of a groundbreaking study linking psychological trauma during childhood to migraines later in adulthood.

Professor Dawn Buse, who also works for the Montefiore Headache Center, studied more than 1,000 adults with tension headaches — the most common and less painful type of headaches among adults — and more than 8,000 adults with migraines. The two groups were asked about past experiences, particularly about abuse or neglect that they may have experienced during their childhood. Of all the people surveyed for the study, as much as 25 percent of those from the migraine group affirmed to being neglected or abused during childhood, while 21 percent of the tension headache group admitted to the same.

Buse and her colleagues discovered that people who experienced childhood emotional trauma were 30 percent more likely to become sufferers of migraine later in life. According to Medical XPress, the numbers remained more or less the same after mediating factors such as age, race, and sex were accounted for.

The researchers clarified that although they discovered a strong link between childhood abuse and adult trauma, this does not immediately indicate a causative relationship between the two.

Dr. Buse believes the discovery can open new avenues in the treatment of adult migraine. In a journal release statement, Buse emphasized on the importance of taking into account childhood abuse when treating adults with migraine.

“When managing patients with migraine, neurologists should take childhood maltreatment into consideration,” said Buse.

This isn’t the first study to link migraines with childhood psychological experiences. In 2012, scientists from Ball State University discovered a strong correlation between migraines and childhood adversity. Their results gave more overwhelming numbers than Buse’s recent work. At the end of their women-exclusive study, they discovered that as much as 79 percent of the respondents suffering from migraines claimed to have had experienced childhood adversity. Those who admitted to having a stressful childhood life were also more likely to have higher blood level markers for stroke and blood clotting.

In the end, both studies suggest that a friendlier child environment reduces the risk for the occurrence of migraine in adulthood. Less hostile surroundings for children may help lessen stress factors that might lead to adverse neurological effects in the future.

Buse’s results were published in the December 24 edition of the journal Neurology.

[Image from Quinn Drombowski/Flickr]