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Childhood Headache Often Persists into Adulthood

Study finds nearly 75% of children with headaches still affected 20 years later

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who experience headaches in early childhood are likely to continue having them much later in life, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Few studies have reported the long-term outcome of childhood headaches. So Paula Brna, M.D., of Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and colleagues conducted a 20-year follow-up study. They looked at 95 Atlantic Canadian patients who presented to their facility in 1983 at an average age of 11.1 years with a chief complaint of headache.

On follow-up, the authors found that 33% still had tension-type headaches, 17% had migraines and 23% had both types of headaches. Eighty percent of patients reported their headaches as moderate to severe but 66% said their headaches have improved from baseline. Only 27% reported they were headache free.

While the headaches persisted later in life, the types of headache appeared to change and the patients were more likely to have multiple headache types. "Patients increasingly chose to manage their headaches pharmacologically as adults, although 20 (45%) believed that non-pharmacological methods were most effective for headache control," the authors add.

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