Prenatal triptan exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in 5-year-old children: Follow-up from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2018 May;32(3):247-255. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12461. Epub 2018 Mar 23.


Background: Triptans are commonly used to treat migraine headaches, but data on the long-term safety of these medications during pregnancy are sparse. Triptans have a biologically plausible mechanism for effects on the fetal brain through binding to 5-HT1 -receptors, and previous studies show increased risks of externalising behaviour problems in toddlers exposed to triptans during pregnancy.

Methods: We included 3784 children in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, whose mothers returned the 5-year-questionnaire and reported a history of migraine or triptan use; 353 (9.3%) mothers reported use of triptans during pregnancy, 1509 (39.9%) reported migraine during pregnancy but no triptan use, and 1922 (50.8%) had migraine prior to pregnancy only. We used linear and log-binomial models with inverse probability weights to examine the association between prenatal triptan exposure and internalising and externalising behaviour, communication, and temperament in 5-year-old children.

Results: Triptan-exposed children scored higher on the sociability trait than unexposed children of mothers with migraine (β 1.66, 95% confidence interval [0.30, 3.02]). We found no other differences in temperament, or increased risk of behaviour or communication problems.

Conclusions: Contrary to results from previous studies in younger children, we found no increased risk of externalising behaviour problems in 5-year-old children exposed to triptans in fetal life. Triptan-exposed children did have slightly more sociable temperaments, but the clinical meaning of this finding is uncertain.

Keywords: MoBa; behaviour; child; neurodevelopment; pregnancy; triptans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Behavior Disorders / chemically induced
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mothers*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tryptamines / adverse effects*
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use*


  • Tryptamines