August 31, 2009

Headaches for children as school begins

New schedules, new teachers, new friends and schoolwork can increase stress in children and increase headaches, a U.S. researcher said.

Doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said more than a third of children suffer from recurrent headaches -- headaches that occur more than once a month. Most are tension headaches, but more severe migraines account for approximately 25 percent of headaches. Migraines, characterized as throbbing or pounding made worse by physical activity, are much more disruptive and frequently occur within families due to a genetic component.

Dr. Ann Pakalnis, a neurologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said pediatricians typically see an increase in migraine patients when children resume school.

Our study, (published in Headache earlier this year) indicates that patients with migraines should be monitored for sleep and emotional disorders, Pakalnis said in a statement. Minimizing caffeine consumption may benefit sleep and mood in headache patients and decrease susceptibility to migraine attacks.

Parents should enforce earlier bedtimes at least two weeks before school begins and make sure children are well-rested before beginning a new school year, Pakalnis said.