Poorer Teens May Get More Migraines
Stress, Poor Diet, and Less Medical Care May Be Linked to Migraines in Teens
WebMD News Archive
July 2, 2007 -- Poorer teenagers may be more likely to suffer from migraine headaches than richer teens.
Genetics play a big part in determining the risk of developing painful
migraine headaches, but a new study suggests that family income may also play a
role in migraine risk.
"Possible factors associated with low socioeconomic status, such as
stress, poor diet or limited access to medical care may be responsible for this
increase," says researcher Marcelo E. Bigal, MD, PhD, of Albert Einstein
College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., in a news release.
Migraines in Teens
Researchers looked at the prevalence of migraines in a group of more than
18,000 teens and their parents. Overall, 6.3% of the teens reported
experiencing one or more migraines in the previous year.
As in adults, the prevalence of migraines in teens was higher among girls
than boys and among whites vs. African-Americans.
Among teenagers who had a parent with migraines, about 8% of both high- and
low-income teens had migraines.
But when researchers looked at teens who weren't genetically predisposed to
migraines, they found family income played a major role, with 4.4% of
low-income teens vs. 2.9% of high-income teens reporting migraines.
"It would seem that for those teens who have a genetic predisposition
for migraine, the stressful life events related to income don't matter,"
says Bigal. "They're more likely than other teens to get migraine
regardless of their socioeconomic status, since they are predisposed."
Researchers say psychiatric factors -- such as depression, anxiety, and
substance abuse -- were not examined in this study and may help explain the
results, which appear in Neurology.
"Our study also suggests that we should explore environmental risk
factors, such as stressful events and nutrition, as they relate to low income
and migraine to understand how we might reduce the occurrence of migraine among
these individuals," says Bigal.