Are you giving your child a headache?

Are you giving your child a headache?

An international team of pediatric researchers have determined that “stressful life events in childhood have an impact on the course of migraine and TTH [tension-type headache] and increase the possibility of combined headaches.”  The researchers used both clinical and epidemiological databases to reach their conclusions.  They found that one type of “stressful life event” emerged as the prime cause of lifestyle changes that bring so many headaches to young people:    parental divorce.  After parsing the data and controlling for numerous variables, the researchers report:  “Childhood TTH is associated with a higher rate of divorced parents.”

Headache is the most common somatic complaint that surfaces in children and adolescents. And the pediatric specialists noted that “the incidence of childhood migraine and frequent headache has substantially increased over the last 30 years.”   Unsurprisingly, the upward trajectory of number of headaches paralleled the rise of the divorce rate.

Children thrive on consistency and stability and there are few things that tilt the world of a young person out of kilter more than the divorce of his/her parents.  The researchers found their results to be “alarming” noting that “children with headache are more likely to experience psychosocial adversity and to grow up with an excess of both headache and other physical and psychiatric symptoms.”

All parents would do well to note these findings – especially those who are considering divorce or have already placed their children in that situation.  Adults might consider divorce to be answer to their problems, but it more than likely won’t play out that way for your children.   As the study states, you could be creating “an important healthcare problem for their future life.”

Aynur Ozge et al., “Overview of Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Headache; Part 1:  Diagnosis,” Journal of Headache Pain, 12.1 (February 2011):  13-23.

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