Ask the Expert: Kids' headaches cause concern

Headache is a very common complaint in children


Q: "My 12-year-old daughter often complains of headaches. Could this be linked to puberty, or should I be worried about it?"

A: Consultant paediatrician and neurologist Dr Ishaq Abu-Arafeh says: "Headache is a very common complaint in children, and research shows that headache in general and migraine, in particular, affects girls and boys under the age of 12 years equally, but affects more girls than boys over the age of 12 years.

"The reasons for this are not known, but the physiological and psychological changes children experience during puberty can trigger headache attacks or may lead to an increase in their frequency.

"This association with puberty has been recognised as part of the natural course of the disease in children who are predisposed to primary headache disorders including migraine, and shouldn't cause any undue worry.

"However, your daughter's headaches may be causing concern as they coincide not only with the onset of puberty but also with the increase in complexity of schoolwork and school exams. Recent research by Nurofen for Children has shown headache to have a negative impact on mood in 54 per cent of children, and on schoolwork in 38 percent.

Therefore, the best way to tackle this issue is by providing effective and appropriate treatment for her headaches and trying to minimise the impact of headaches on her quality of life."


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