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July 2007 Briefing - Neurology

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Neurology for July 2007. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Surgery and Radiation Effective for Spinal Cord Injury

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Carefully timed microsurgery to relieve fluid buildup and radiation to eliminate cells that interfere with repair nearly doubles the repair and preservation of injured spinal cord in rats, according to a study in the July 18 issue of PLoS ONE.

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Biking a Common Cause of Pediatric Brain Injury

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Among all sports and recreational activities, children and teenagers are most likely to experience a nonfatal traumatic brain injury from bike riding and football, according to a report in the July 27 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Cognitive Reserves Protect Against Lead Exposure

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- High cognitive reserves protect cognitive function in patients with chronic lead exposure, but not motor and dexterity skills, according to a report published in the July 31 issue of Neurology.

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Donepezil Preserves Cognitive Function in Severe Alzheimer's

MONDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Donepezil treatments appear to be more effective than a placebo at preserving cognitive function in those with severe Alzheimer disease, according to a report in the July 31 issue of Neurology.

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Deep Brain Stimulation Effective in Pediatric Dystonia

MONDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Children with early onset idiopathic generalized dystonia may respond well to deep brain stimulation when medical treatments fail to control symptoms, according to a case report of four patients published in the August issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

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Interleukin-7 Receptor Gene Linked to Multiple Sclerosis

MONDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- An international team of researchers has discovered that variants of the interleukin-7 receptor α (IL7Rα) gene increase the risk of multiple sclerosis. The findings were published online July 29 in two studies in Nature Genetics and confirmed in a third, which was released early by the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Polar Expedition Can Cause Mental Highs and Lows

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Polar expeditions can have both positive and negative effects on the psyche, according to a study published in the July 26 issue of The Lancet.

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Sumatriptan Helps Combat Mountain Sickness

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Prophylaxis with sumatriptan is effective in preventing acute mountain sickness (AMS), according to a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial study published in the June 2007 issue of Annals of Neurology.

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Marijuana Associated With Higher Psychosis Risk

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Marijuana use is associated with about a 40 percent increase in the risk of psychosis, with the risk increasing with more frequent use, according to a study in the July 28 issue of The Lancet.

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Redundant Nerve Roots Predict Spondylolisthesis Severity

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with lumbar 4-5 (L4-5) spondylolisthesis, those with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evidence of redundant nerve roots of the cauda equina are more likely to present with severe clinical symptoms, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

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Statin Use Associated with Reduced Dementia Risk

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Simvastatin use is associated with a reduction in dementia and Parkinson disease incidence in patients taking the drug, according to a report published July 19 in BMC Medicine.

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Early Surgery Urged for Thoracic Myelopathy

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with thoracic myelopathy, decompressive surgery is more successful in those with a shorter preoperative duration of symptoms and milder myelopathy, suggesting that early diagnosis and treatment are important, according to a report published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

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Retinal Exam May Help Diagnose Dementia

THURSDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Retinopathy is associated with cognitive dysfunction in older patients with hypertension, researchers report in the July issue of Stroke. The finding suggests that retinal photography may help differentiate between Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia in certain patients.

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Infant Development Predicts Later Cognitive Function

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- The age at which developmental milestones are reached appears to have a small but significant association with subsequent cognitive function, according to a report published online in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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Prenatal Alcohol Affects Brain Areas Inhibiting Behavior

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Children and adolescents who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders have altered responses in the frontal-striatal areas of the brain compared to other children their age, according to study findings published in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Diagnostic Tool Detects Minimal Hepatic Encephalopathy

WEDNESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Critical flicker frequency, which measures the frequency at which the eye distinguishes a flickering light from a fused beam, is an accurate test to diagnose minimal hepatic encephalopathy, according to a report in the July issue of the Journal of Hepatology.

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New Protocol Helps Children with Intracranial Ependymoma

TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- In very young children with intracranial ependymoma, a primary postoperative chemotherapy strategy can help avoid or delay the need for radiotherapy that can damage the patients' developing nervous systems. And it can do so without compromising survival, according to study findings published online July 20 in The Lancet Oncology.

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Sun Exposure in Childhood May Cut Multiple Sclerosis Risk

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Sun exposure during childhood appears to reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, independent of genetic background, researchers report in the July 24 issue of Neurology.

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Brain Changes Seen in Patients with Writer's Cramp

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Structural abnormalities are present in the cerebellum and other brain areas in patients with persistent writer's cramp compared to those without the task-specific dystonia, according to study findings published in the July 24 issue of Neurology.

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Outpatient Blood Clots Present Public Health Challenge

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Outpatients are more likely than inpatients to develop venous thromboembolism, indicating a need for more aggressive anticoagulant prophylaxis, according to a study published in the July 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Rapid Assay Detects Infectious Prion Proteins

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new assay method can detect infectious prion proteins in microliter amounts of cerebrospinal fluid with greater speed and sensitivity than other assay methods, according to a report published online July 22 in Nature Methods.

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Patient Lives Normal Life Despite Thin Cortex

FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- A middle-aged man of normal intelligence was found to have grossly enlarged cerebral ventricles and an extremely thin cortex after experiencing a bout of leg weakness at age 44, according to a case study in the July 21 issue of The Lancet.

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Neurotransmitter Surge May Induce Amnesia

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although protein synthesis is thought to play a key role in the formation of long-term memories, a new study suggests this might not be the case. Amnesia in rats caused by the protein-inhibiting chemical anisomycin can be prevented by curbing the surge in neurotransmitters that occurs after injection, according to a report published online July 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Many Teen Elite Tennis Players Have Spinal Abnormalities

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Most young elite tennis players with no symptoms of pain have abnormalities in their lower spine including fractures and degenerated discs, according to a report published online July 19 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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Drug Combo Boosts Risk in Peripheral Arterial Disease

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with peripheral arterial disease who take an oral anticoagulant in combination with an antiplatelet drug do not benefit in terms of cardiovascular events and are more likely to experience life-threatening bleeding, including hemorrhagic stroke, than patients on antiplatelet therapy alone. The findings are published in the July 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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C-Reactive Protein Linked to Cognition in Child Sleep Apnea

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children with obstructive sleep apnea who have cognitive impairment are more likely to have increased levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) than children who do not exhibit cognitive impairment, according to study findings published in the July 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Apraclonidine Eye Drops Linked to Adverse Effects in Infants

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Apraclonidine, a selective alpha-2 agonist used in eye drops as a diagnostic test for Horner syndrome in infants, may cause episodes of severe lethargy that persist for up to 10 hours and require hospitalization and oxygen administration, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

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Primary Motor Cortex at Root of Alien Hand Syndrome

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- The rare neurological condition known as alien hand syndrome, in which a patient involuntary moves his or her hand and may even pick up and manipulate objects without will, is associated with selective activation of the primary motor cortex, researchers report in the July issue of the Annals of Neurology.

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FDA OKs First Artificial Disc for Cervical Degenerative Disease

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first artificial disc for the treatment of cervical degenerative disease. The Prestige Cervical Disc, made by Medtronic Sofamor Danek, is as safe and effective as cervical fusion, according to clinical trials.

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Cranial Irradiation Affects Child's School Performance

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Most children who undergo cranial irradiation therapy for the treatment of a brain tumor complete their secondary school education on time, but the treatment adversely affects their grades compared to their healthy counterparts, researchers report in the July 17 issue of Neurology.

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Disturbed Sleep Linked to Cognitive Decline in Women

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly women with cognitive decline are more likely than their peers to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night and a tendency to nap for more than two hours during the day, according to study findings published in the July 17 issue of Neurology.

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Sacroplasty Cuts Pain from Sacral Insufficiency Fractures

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Sacroplasty is a safe, effective and rapid treatment for sacral insufficiency fractures in patients with osteoporosis, and improvements are sustained for at least a year, according to a report in the July issue of Spine.

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Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Altered By Light in Mice

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Mice exposed to shorter days during seasonal changes have changes in their feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and altered learning and memory, according to the results of a study in the July issue of Endocrinology.

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Narcolepsy Patients More Likely to Have REM Without Atonia

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Narcolepsy patients are more likely to have REM sleep without atonia than controls, and tend to have sleep motor abnormalities similar to patients with idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder. Patients with the conditions may have neurobiological defects in motor inhibition, according to a report in the July issue of Sleep.

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Tobacco Use Associated with Reduced Parkinson's Risk

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- A history of tobacco use is indeed associated with a significantly reduced risk of Parkinson disease, according to the first pooled analysis of data. The results, published in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology, suggest that there is a risk reduction in ex-smokers as well as in pipe and cigar smokers.

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Serotonin Transporter Variants Linked to Drug Effects

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Certain variants of a serotonin transporter gene are associated with a higher burden of adverse effects in depressed patients being treated with citalopram, researchers report in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Skin Denervation Common in Eosinophilia Neuropathy

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with eosinophilia-associated neuropathy frequently have skin denervation and cutaneous vasculitis, according to study findings published in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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MRI Can Assess Brain Injury in Cardiac Arrest Survivors

THURSDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who are successfully resuscitated after a cardiopulmonary arrest often have brain injuries that can be confirmed with diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), according to a report in the July issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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Plasma β-Amyloid Predicts Alzheimer's in Down Syndrome

THURSDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with Down syndrome, elevated levels of β-amyloid peptide Aβ42 levels are associated with earlier onset on Alzheimer disease and increased risk of mortality, according to a report in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Neural Tube Defects Drop After Folic Acid Fortification

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of neural tube defects fell by nearly half after folic acid fortification of foods was introduced in Canada in 1998, according to a study in the July 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Jogger with iPod Suffers Indirect Lightening Strike

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Jogging in a thunderstorm with an iPod and being indirectly struck by lightning led to burns, hearing loss and fractures in a case reported in the July 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Minimal Effects from Exercise Program for Low Back Pain

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with persistent and disabling low back pain find limited relief from an exercise and educational treatment program, but those who have a preference for that type of intervention tend to fare better than others, according to a report in the July issue of Spine.

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High Salivary Cortisol Linked to Lower Cognitive Function

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Patients aged 50 to 70 who have elevated levels of salivary cortisol have worse cognitive function than those who do not, researchers report in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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High School Football Riskier for Head Injury Than College

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Catastrophic head injuries, although relatively rare, are more likely to occur in high school football players than college football players, possibly because more high school players continue to play after previous head injuries, according to a study in the July issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

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Healthline Operators Steer Stroke Patients Wrong Way

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital healthline operators may inappropriately advise stroke patients to call their doctors instead of 911, leading to delays in life-saving and brain-saving stroke treatment, according to study findings published in the August issue of Stroke.

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Aggressive Behavior May Be Rare Sign of Stroke

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Aggressive behavior in a patient can be an indication of acute posterior cerebral artery stroke, but the lack of other neurological signs other than hemianopsia may make it difficult to diagnose, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.

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Alcoholic Smokers Have Worse Cognitive Function in Recovery

TUESDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- During the first six to nine months of abstinence, recovering alcoholics who are also smokers score worse than non-smokers on measures of cognitive efficiency, executive skills, visuospatial skills and working memory, according to a longitudinal study published in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Start of Parkinson's Therapy Linked to Hallucinations

TUESDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with early Parkinson disease may have an increased risk of developing hallucinations, sleepiness and edema when they start dopaminergic treatment, researchers report in the July 10 issue of Neurology.

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Gene Mutation Linked to Frontotemporal Dementia

TUESDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- The development of frontotemporal dementia is associated with a newly discovered genetic mutation, according to a study of one family published in the July 10 issue of Neurology.

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FDA Approves Exelon Skin Patch for Alzheimer Disease

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a once-daily Exelon skin patch (rivastigmine transdermal system) for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer disease. The cholinesterase inhibitor, made by Novartis AG, was approved in capsule form last year.

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Benzodiazepine Binding Sites Decreased in Panic Disorder

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with panic disorder have a decrease in benzodiazepine binding sites in the insular cortex compared to those without the psychiatric diagnosis, according to a brain imaging study published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Autism-Related Behavior Can Be Detected By 14 Months

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral changes can be detected in some children with autism spectrum disorder by as early as 14 months of age, according to a prospective study in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Newborn Encephalopathy Risk Associated with Poverty

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Women who live in poor neighborhoods and have less than 12 years of schooling are at increased risk of having a newborn with encephalopathy compared with their peers in higher-income areas who have more education, according to the results of a study in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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Higher Cabin Pressure May Cut Air Travel Discomfort

MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Barometric pressures experienced during commercial air travel are insufficient to induce acute mountain sickness but still cause a significant amount of discomfort in unacclimatized passengers, researchers report in the July 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Increasing cabin pressure may help reduce this discomfort, the authors suggest.

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Cortical Deficits Observed in Schizophrenics' Siblings

FRIDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- The healthy siblings of patients with childhood-onset schizophrenia may also have cortical deficits, suggesting that the prefrontal and temporal gray matter loss in childhood-onset schizophrenia is a familial/trait marker, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Decline in Sense of Smell Precedes Mental Decline

FRIDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults, impaired ability to identify odors may be the harbinger of future mild cognitive impairment that is frequently a precursor to Alzheimer disease, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Epilepsy Patients Have Increased Risk of Suicide

FRIDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who have epilepsy and a history of psychiatric disease are 13 times more likely to commit suicide than control individuals with neither epilepsy nor psychiatric disease, according to a report published online July 3 in The Lancet Neurology. Women and recently diagnosed patients may be at particularly high risk.

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Children with Cerebral Palsy Have Regular Quality of Life

THURSDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Children aged 8 to 12 years with cerebral palsy have a quality of life that is similar to that of their peers in the general population, according to a study published in the June 30 issue of The Lancet.

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Feeding-Related Neuropeptide Promotes Visceral Fat Growth

THURSDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Neuropeptide Y, a hormone involved in the neural control of feeding, may also be linked to stress-induced obesity, according to a report in the July issue of Nature Medicine.

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Immune Response Greater in Blacks with Multiple Sclerosis

TUESDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with multiple sclerosis, blacks have a higher cerebrospinal fluid humoral immune response than whites, according to the results of a study published in the July 3 issue of Neurology.

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Low Household Income Linked to Migraine Risk in Teens

MONDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents in low-income households have a higher risk of migraine than those in upper-income households, but only if there is no parental history of migraine, according to a study published in the July 3 issue of Neurology.

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Physician's Briefing
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