Effectiveness of nasal sumatriptan in 5- to 12-year-old children

Headache. Jul-Aug 2001;41(7):693-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1526-4610.2001.041007693.x.


Objective: To assess the tolerability and effectiveness of nasal sumatriptan in the treatment of migraine in 5- to 12-year-old children.

Background: Although headaches are a common disorder and occur in up to 10.6% of children, many of the new migraine abortive agents have not been well evaluated in this population. It has recently been reported that nasal sumatriptan is effective in the treatment of migraine in adolescents. In younger children, it is yet to be characterized. In addition, many children have significant amounts of vomiting with their migraines, limiting their use of oral medications.

Design and methods: Children with headache were evaluated by a child neurologist, child psychologist, and pediatric nurse practitioner. Clinical and International Headache Society diagnoses were established for each child. Patients with headaches that were either unresponsive to oral medications or had significant vomiting were treated with nasal sumatriptan. Initial administration and tolerability were performed in the Headache Center at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital Medical Center. Patients or their parents were contacted to assess the overall effectiveness of nasal sumatriptan after home administration.

Results: Ten patients aged between 5 and 12 years (mean, 9.9 years) received either a 5-mg (n = 2) or 20-mg (n = 8) dose of sumatriptan. All 10 patients had a clinical diagnosis of migraine; 7 met the International Headache Society criteria for migraine. The mean age of headache onset was 6.6 years. A total of 57 headaches were treated; 47 (82.5%) responded to sumatriptan. Of the patients who treated headaches, the mean number of headaches treated was 5.2, while the mean number of responsive headaches was 4.3. One patient had no response, 2 patients had a 50% response, and 6 patients had 100% response to the nasal sumatriptan. Three patients reported persistent "bad taste."

Conclusions: This report demonstrates that nasal sumatriptan may be effective in aborting migraine in young children (aged 5 to 12 years). It also suggests that there may be subgroups for which it works well. This information suggests that double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are necessary to determine the overall effectiveness of nasal sumatriptan in this age group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Sumatriptan / administration & dosage*
  • Sumatriptan / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Sumatriptan