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Children With Migraines at Higher Risk for Sleep Disorders

They're twice as likely to have apnea, repeated arousals from slumber, study finds

THURSDAY, April 17, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Children with migraine headaches are more likely to have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and lack of sleep, than children with non-migraine headaches, new research shows.

"Sleeping problems can exacerbate the problems migraine causes on a child's health and may hinder a child's performance at school," study author Dr. Martina Vendrame of Temple University in Philadelphia, said in a prepared statement. "Parents and doctors need to be aware of the strong likelihood of sleep disorders in children with migraine and seek appropriate preventions and treatments."

The study, expected to be presented Thursday at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Chicago, looked at 90 children with headache and sleep problems. Of these children, 60 had migraine, 11 had chronic daily headache, six had tension headache and 13 had non-specific headache. They were studied using a polysomnogram, a sleep test that monitors the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rhythm and breathing.

The children with migraines were almost twice as likely as the others to have sleep apnea, a condition in which the upper airway gets obstructed and causes repeated arousals from sleep. Such sleep-disordered breathing was found in 56 percent of children with migraine versus 30 percent of children with non-migraine headache.

Severe migraine was also associated with shorter total sleep time, longer total time to fall asleep, and shorter REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep in which most dreams can be recalled.

Sleep-disordered breathing was also frequent in the studied children with non-specific headache and those who were overweight.

Half of children with tension headache grind their teeth at night compared to 2.4 percent of children with non-tension headache, the study found.

More information

The National Headache Foundation has more about migraines.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 17, 2008
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