Parental migraine in relation to migraine in offspring: Family linkage analyses from the HUNT Study

Cephalalgia. 2019 Jun;39(7):854-862. doi: 10.1177/0333102419828989. Epub 2019 Feb 2.


Background: Migraine is known to run in families. While some clinical studies have indicated that migraine is disproportionally transmitted through the maternal line, this has not been examined in a population-based setting.

Methods: We utilized a large, population-based cohort study from Norway, the HUNT Study. Using a cross-sectional design, our sample consisted of 13,731 parents and 8970 offspring. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for active migraine and non-migrainous headache in offspring, given active maternal or paternal headache.

Results: There was a significant association between maternal migraine and offspring migraine (odds ratio 2.76, 95% confidence interval 2.18-3.51). A weaker association ( p = 0.004 for comparison with maternal migraine) was found between paternal migraine and offspring migraine (odds ratio 1.67, 95% confidence interval 1.33-2.28). For non-migrainous headache, there was a significant association between mothers and offspring (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.10-1.43), but not between fathers and offspring.

Conclusions: Parental migraine is associated with offspring migraine, with a stronger association for maternal migraine. This may indicate maternal-specific transmission.

Keywords: Migraine; all headache; epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / genetics
  • Norway
  • Parents
  • Pedigree
  • Surveys and Questionnaires