Migraine and childhood periodic syndromes in children and adolescents

Curr Opin Neurol. 2013 Jun;26(3):262-8. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32836085c7.


Purpose of review: This review covers recent advances in our understanding of migraine and childhood periodic syndromes in children and adolescents, as well as the treatment of these disorders.

Recent findings: The childhood periodic syndromes include benign paroxysmal torticollis, benign paroxysmal vertigo, abdominal migraine, and cyclic vomiting syndrome. Recent research suggests infant colic may also fit into this category. Migraine headache is common in children and adolescents, and chronic migraine effects 0.8-1.8% of adolescents and 0.6% of children. Two triptans are now FDA-approved for the acute treatment of migraine in pediatric patients. For preventive therapy, a number of medications have been studied and a major national trial is ongoing.

Summary: Childhood periodic syndromes are thought to be early life expressions of those genes that later in life are expressed as migraine headache. Future research into mechanisms of identifying children with these disorders prior to extensive and often invasive testing would be of benefit to these families and children. Migraine-specific therapies are now approved for the acute treatment of migraine in pediatric patients. Preventive migraine therapy is indicated in appropriate patients, although which medications are most effective in children is an area of active research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Torticollis / diagnosis
  • Torticollis / drug therapy*
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use
  • Vertigo / diagnosis
  • Vertigo / drug therapy*
  • Vomiting / diagnosis
  • Vomiting / drug therapy*


  • Tryptamines

Supplementary concepts

  • Familial cyclic vomiting syndrome