Anticonvulsant drugs for pediatric migraine prevention: an evidence-based review

Eur J Pain. 2009 Oct;13(9):893-901. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2008.11.004. Epub 2008 Dec 11.


Background: The use of anticonvulsant drugs for the prevention of migraine in children and adolescents has been supported in the past.

Aims: To evaluate the available evidence for the efficacy and safety of anticonvulsants drugs in the prevention of migraine attacks in children and adolescents.

Methods: Studies were selected through a comprehensive literature search. We included all types of study designs (controlled and uncontrolled) due to the limited evidence. Monthly migraine frequency was used as the primary outcome measure in most of the studies. Studies were classified into levels of evidence according to their design.

Results: Fourteen studies were included with a total of 939 patients. Topiramate (4 randomized controlled trials [RCT], two uncontrolled trials), sodium valproate/divalproex sodium (two RCTs, one uncontrolled trial, two retrospective chart reviews) levetiracetam and zonisamide (both only uncontrolled studies) are the anticonvulsants that have been reported in the literature. The findings show that valproate is not different from placebo and topiramate may not be different but further randomized trials are needed. All drugs were well tolerated in this age group with no serious events reported.

Conclusions: The use of anticonvulsants in the prevention of migraine in children and adolescents is not adequately supported by methodologically sound RCTs. More research is needed in the future to establish the efficacy and safety of specific agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fructose / administration & dosage
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Off-Label Use / statistics & numerical data
  • Topiramate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Valproic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Valproic Acid / adverse effects


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Topiramate
  • Fructose
  • Valproic Acid