Migraine headache in children

BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Jun 5:2015:0318.


Introduction: Diagnosis of migraine headache in children can be difficult as it depends on subjective symptoms; diagnostic criteria are broader than in adults. Migraine occurs in 3% to 10% of children and increases with age up to puberty. Migraine spontaneously remits after puberty in half of children, but if it begins during adolescence it may be more likely to persist throughout adulthood.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for acute attacks of migraine headache in children? What are the effects of pharmacological prophylaxis for migraine headache in children? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2014 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: Twenty-three studies were included. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions. For acute symptom relief: 5HT1 agonists [such as triptans], non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], and paracetamol. And, for prophylaxis: beta-blockers, flunarizine, pizotifen, and topiramate.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Tryptamines
  • Acetaminophen