The epidemiology of headache among children with brain tumor. Headache in children with brain tumors. The Childhood Brain Tumor Consortium

J Neurooncol. 1991 Feb;10(1):31-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00151245.


In this report we present aspects of the epidemiology of headache (i.e., pain in the head, face, ear, or neck) among children with brain tumors. The data are derived from the 3,291 subjects in the Childhood Brain Tumor Consortium databank. Overall, 62% of the children with brain tumors experienced chronic or frequent headaches prior to their first hospitalization: 58% of children with supratentorial tumors and 70% of children with infratentorial tumors. The relative frequency of headache increased through age 7 and then leveled off regardless of tumor location. For children under age 5, headache rarely had a duration of more than 1 year prior to hospitalization. Among children over age 4, headache duration of at least one year was significantly greater for supratentorial than for infratentorial tumors. Children with a brain tumor and headache had a different distribution of symptoms and neurologic signs than those without headache. Tumor location and headache status were interactively associated with the presence of other symptoms and neurologic signs. Children with headache had a greater number of other symptoms and neurologic signs. Regardless of tumor location among children with headache, nausea or vomiting, papilledema, and hypoactive tendon reflexes were more frequent, while upper extremity weakness, optic atrophy, and irritability were less frequent. Diplopia, coma, stiff neck, anesthesia or hypesthesia, pupillary abnormalities, and abnormalities of personality, academic performance, or speech were associated with headache in children with supratentorial tumors. No specific symptoms or neurologic signs were associated with headache in children with infratentorial tumors. Supratentorial craniopharyngioma, ependymoma, and protoplasmic astrocytoma were associated with significantly high rates of headache as was infratentorial pilocytic astrocytoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / complications*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniotomy
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Time Factors