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Migraine Doctors in Short Supply Across U.S.

Only 416 specialists available nationwide, study found

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- There are too few migraine headache specialists in the United States, a new study finds.

Migraines affect about 36 million Americans over age 12 (more than 11 percent of the population). That's more than the number affected by asthma and diabetes combined. However, only 416 specialists nationwide are certified by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties to diagnose and treat migraine, according to researchers.

States with the highest number of migraine specialists include New York (56), California and Ohio (29 each), Texas (25), Florida (24) and Pennsylvania (23). Six states have no migraine specialists, according to the study presented this week at the International Headache Congress meeting in Boston.

States with the worst specialist-to-patient ratios include Oregon, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas. The District of Columbia has the best ratio, followed by New Hampshire, New York and Nebraska.

"This is a troubling picture," study leader Dr. Noah Rosen, of the Pain and Headache Center of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said in a congress news release. "Migraine is a highly disabling disorder -- the seventh most disabling in the world and the fourth most disabling among women. It's clear that many more specialists need to be trained and certified to meet the need."

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Migraine costs the United States more than $29 billion a year in direct medical expenses such as doctor visits and medications, and indirect expenses such as missed work and lost productivity, the release noted.

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