Headache during gestation: evaluation of 1101 women

Can J Neurol Sci. 2007 May;34(2):187-92. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100006028.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the presence of headache in women with a previous history or new-onset headache during the current gestation, classify the findings, and describe the clinical characteristics and outcome of the headache.

Methods: From January/1998 to June/2002 we prospectively evaluated 1101 pregnant women (12-45 years old), with a history of headache, at two prenatal clinics and an inpatient obstetric public hospital. Women were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire during the first, second, and third gestation trimesters and immediately after delivery. All interviews were conducted by one of the authors, using the International Headache Society Classification (IHSC-2004).

Results: In 1029 women there was a history of headache prior to the current pregnancy, 36 (3.4%) women first experienced headache during this pregnancy and 40 patients experienced new types of headache. In these 76 patients with new onset headache during pregnancy, 40 had secondary headache (52.6%), 31 had primary headache (40.8%), and 5 had headache not classified elsewhere (6.6%). According to IHSC- 2004 criteria, we found migraine in 848/1029 women (82.4%), with pregestational headache.

Conclusions: Most of the pregnant women presented with headache, mainly in migraine, prior to pregnancy, and most of the headaches improved or disappeared during the second and third gestation trimester. In a relatively small number of pregnant women, a new type of headache started during the gestation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Headache Disorders / classification
  • Headache Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters