According to new research, adolescent girls who hit puberty at a younger age may also be more likely to develop migraines.
Teenagers who hit puberty at a younger age may also be more likely to develop migraines, according to new research from researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) School of Medicine.
“We know that the percentage of girls and boys with migraine is pretty much the same until menstruation begins,” says Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and director of the Center for Headache and Facial Pain at the UC Gardner Institute. of Neurosciences. "When the menstrual period begins in girls, the prevalence is increasing, but what our data suggest is that it occurs even earlier."
The findings will be presented by Martin at the 61st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society on Saturday, July 13, in Philadelphia.
Nationally, about 10 percent of school-age children suffer from migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF). As the MRF reports, as adolescence approaches, the incidence of migraine increases rapidly in girls, and by age 17, approximately 8 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls have experienced migraine.
Martin and a team of researchers were part of a longitudinal study that examined 761 adolescent girls from the Cincinnati, New York and San Francisco Bay area sites. The girls were between the ages of 8 and 20 and the study was conducted over a 10-year period beginning in 2004. The girls enrolled in the study between the ages of 8 and 10 were examined during the study visit every six to 12 months. The researchers determined when they showed initial signs of thelarche (breast development), pubarche (growth of pubic hair), and menarche (start of menstrual periods).
The girls answered a headache questionnaire to find out if they had migraine, no migraine, or possible migraine; the latter is defined as the fulfillment of all the diagnostic criteria for migraine, except one. The average age at which they completed the survey was 16 years.
Of those surveyed, 85 girls (11 percent) were diagnosed with migraine, while 53 (7%) had probable migraine and 623 (82%) did not have migraine, according to Martin, also a UC Health physician who specializes in migraine.
The researchers found that the girls with migraine had an earlier age of weaving (breast development) and the onset of menarche (menstrual periods) than those without migraine. On average, breast development occurred four months earlier in people with migraines, while menstruation began five months earlier. There were no differences in age at pubarche (pubic hair development) between people with and without migraine.
"There was a 25 percent increase in the likelihood of having a migraine for every previous year a girl experienced pain or menarche," says Susan Pinney, PhD, professor in the UC Department of Environmental Health and principal investigator on the study. . "This suggests a strong relationship between early puberty and the development of migraine in adolescent girls."
Previous research suggests that migraine often begins with the onset of menstrual cycles during menarche in adolescent girls. But this study looks at earlier stages of puberty, like thelarche and pubarche, explains Martin.
"To suggest that migraine origins can actually occur before menstrual periods start is quite novel," says Martin. “At each of these stages, different hormones start to appear in girls. During pubarche, testosterone and androgens are present, and during larvae, there is the first exposure to estrogen. Menarche is when a more mature hormonal pattern emerges. Our study implies that the first exposure to estrogen could be the starting point for migraine headaches in some adolescents. It may be the Big Bang theory of migraine ”.
So is there anything one can do to prevent early puberty?
"Studies suggest that childhood obesity is associated with early puberty," says Martin, who is also president of the National Headache Foundation. “Keeping your weight down could prevent the early onset of puberty. Future studies should be done to determine if the strategy will also decrease the likelihood of developing migraine.
Other co-investigators on the study include Frank Biro, MD, UC professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Cincinnati children's pediatrician, Jun Ying, PhD, professor in the UC Department of Environmental Health, and Hao Yu, biostatistician, UC Department of Environmental Health.
Funding for this research came from grant U01ES026119 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and grant 1R03HD094236 from the National Institute of Child Health.
Materials provided by the University of Cincinnati.
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