Prevalence of Headache Days and Disability 3 Years After Participation in the Childhood and Adolescent Migraine Prevention Medication Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Jul 1;4(7):e2114712. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.14712.


Importance: Migraine is a common neurological disease that often begins in childhood and continues into adulthood; approximately 6 million children and adolescents in the United States cope with migraine, and many frequently experience significant disability and multiple headache days per week. Although pharmacological preventive treatments have been shown to offer some benefit to youth with migraine, additional research is needed to understand whether and how these benefits are sustained.

Objective: To survey clinical status of youth with migraine who participated in the 24-week Childhood and Adolescent Migraine Prevention (CHAMP) trial over a 3-year follow-up period.

Design, setting, and participants: This survey study used internet-based surveys collected from youth ages 8 to 17 years at 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months after completion of the CHAMP trial, which randomized participants to amitriptyline, topiramate, or placebo. At the end of the trial, the study drug was stopped, and participants received clinical care of their choice thereafter. The CHAMP trial was conducted between May 2012 and November 2015, and survey follow-up was conducted June 2013 to June 2018. Participants in this survey study were representative of those randomized in the trial. Data were analyzed from March 2020 to April 2021.

Exposures: Survey completion.

Main outcomes and measures: Headache days, disability (assessed using the Pediatric Migraine Disability Scale [PedMIDAS]), and self-report of ongoing use of prescription preventive medication.

Results: A total of 205 youth (mean [SD] age, 14.2 [2.3] years; 139 [68%] girls; mean [SD] history of migraine, 5.7 [3.1] years) participated in the survey. Retention of participants was 189 participants (92%) at month 6, 182 participants (88%) at month 12, 163 participants (80%) at month 18, 165 participants (80%) at month 24, and 155 participants (76%) at month 36. Over the course of the 3-year follow-up, participants consistently maintained meaningful reductions in headache days (mean [SD] headache days per 28 days: CHAMP baseline, 11.1 [6.0] days; CHAMP completion, 5.0 [5.7] days; 3-year follow-up, 6.1 [6.1] days) and disability (mean [SD] score: CHAMP baseline, 40.9 [26.4]; CHAMP completion, 17.9 [22.1]; 3-year follow-up, 12.3 [20.0]). At 3 years after completion of the CHAMP trial, headache days were approximately 1.5 per week (changed from about 3 per week at trial baseline) and disability had improved from the moderate range to the low mild range on the PedMIDAS. Longitudinal analyses showed that amitriptyline and topiramate did not explain intercept random effects for either mean rate of headache days per week (amitriptyline: estimate [SE], 0.07 [0.05]; P = .16; topiramate: estimate [SE], 0.04 [0.05]; P = .50) or headache disability PedMIDAS total score (amitriptyline: estimate [SE], 0.25 [0.38]; P = .52; topiramate: estimate [SE], -0.09 [0.39]; P = .82) changes over time. Of 153 participants who reported on prescription drug use at 3 years, only 1 participant (1%) reported using prevention medication, and most participants reported no medication use at most time points.

Conclusions and relevance: These findings suggest that children and adolescents with longer than 5 years history of migraine who participated in the CHAMP trial may sustain positive clinical outcomes over time, even after discontinuing preventive pill-based treatment. This survey study could inform use and discontinuation timing of pharmacological preventive therapies for migraine in youth ages 8 to 17 years. Research is needed to examine mechanisms of treatment improvement and maintenance for preventive therapies, as well as placebo, in the pediatric population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation
  • Disabled Children / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Headache / complications*
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Headache / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome