For Immediate Release
Contact: Jerry Carey
Back-to-school Changes, Stress May Trigger Headaches in Children and Teens
8/18/05—If your child wakes up on the first day of school complaining of a headache, it may be just a headache, but it could also be an indication of more serious condition such as migraine.
"For many children, the beginning of the school year is loaded with events that can trigger headache symptoms," said Dr. R. Michael Gallagher, dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Osteopathic Medicine and the founding director of the University Headache Center in Moorestown. "The stress of new teachers, schools or classmates and changes in diet and sleep patterns are common causes of migraine and other types of chronic headaches. One out of every five young people - that's more than 10 million children overall - suffer from chronic headaches."
Parents may not realize the seriousness of their children's complaints because they mistakenly assume that headaches are an adult disease. In fact, surveys show that 20 percent of adults who have migraines report that their first headaches began before the age of 10.
"We also know that there's a genetic predisposition for migraines," Dr. Gallagher said. "If a woman has migraines, her children will have a 50 percent chance of having migraines too. That number increases to 75 percent when both parents have migraines."
According to the National Headache Foundation, a child who exhibits the following symptoms may be suffering from a migraine or chronic headache:
- Waking up because of a headache
- Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
- Headache that goes away with rest
- Pain increases with physical activity
- Headache severity increases or headaches occur more frequently
- Changes in temperament or personality
- Car or motion sickness
To arrange an interview with Dr. Gallagher, contact Jerry Carey at the UMDNJ News Service at (856) 566 6171 or at (973) 972 5000.