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Kids' Headaches: Link to Bad Behavior?

Study Shows Some Children With Severe Headaches Report More Emotional Problems

Quality-of-Life Issues

Headache treatment specialist Scott Powers, PhD, says the study confirms that frequent headaches are common in children and that they have a tremendous impact on quality-of-life issues.

But he added that it was limited by the fact that researchers could not assess the impact of headache treatment on emotional and behavioral issues.

Powers is co-director of the Cincinnati Children's Headache Center, which treats about 500 children a year. He is also a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

His own research suggests that frequent, uncontrolled headaches have a greater impact on emotional development, school performance, and other psychosocial issues than most other health problems children may face.

"The assumption has to be that the children [in the latest study] had frequent headache pain that was not well controlled. So it isn't surprising that they were having more quality-of-life problems and other issues," he tells WebMD.

Pain Relief

He says the typical new patient at the Cincinnati center is about age 11, has had migraines or other frequent headaches for three to four years, and has already seen several specialists who failed to help them.

When headache pain is adequately treated, Powers says, emotional and behavioral problems often resolve.

"In some cases kids may have headaches and depressiondepression or headaches and behavioral struggles, and these issues don't get better when the headaches are treated," he says. "But there are usually other things going on in these children's lives."

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