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Preventive treatment of migraine in children

Kenneth J Mack, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Marc C Patterson, MD, FRACP
Jerry W Swanson, MD, MHPE
Deputy Editor
John F Dashe, MD, PhD


Migraine is a common acute and recurrent headache syndrome in children. It is characterized by severe periodic episodes of headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia, and relieved with sleep. In children, it may last from 2 to 72 hours (sometimes shorter), is often bilateral, and often occurs without aura [1].

The management of migraine consists of general lifestyle measures, abortive treatment, and preventive treatment. An individual patient may need all three approaches. Unfortunately, there are limited data from controlled, randomized, and blinded trials regarding treatment of migraine in children and adolescents [2-4]. Thus, most management recommendations are based upon experience in adults.

The preventive treatment of migraine in children is reviewed here. Other aspects of pediatric migraine are discussed separately. (See "Classification of migraine in children" and "Pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis of migraine in children" and "Acute treatment of migraine in children".)


Indications for preventive therapy of migraine include the following:

Frequent or long lasting migraine headaches

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 14, 2016.
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