Migraines in Children
migraines are very common in children


Migraine attacks do not affect only adults.  Sadly, migraines are very common in children. If you are pregnant and have migraine, click here. Kids as young as 18 months have been reported to have had a migraine. Half of migraine sufferers have their first attack before they are 12 years old. Studies show that 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines, and that in 70% of cases a child that has migraines has a close family member that does or did have migraines.

Migraine symptoms in kids may be different from those in adults. Children can develop a condition that is rare in adults. This is an unusual and atypical variation of migraine. This variation is not associated with headaches.

Abdominal migraine is one of these variants. This is a condition thought to be related to migraine that is characterized by pain in the abdomen.  It can be caused by the usual triggers of classic migraine. The pain can be severe, and nausea and vomiting can occur.

 Visit your Pediatric Neurologist or Headache Specialist and learn how you can manage your child´s migraines. Children, typically, respond well to the right therapy and need not suffer excessively. Learn more about different types of migraine, their causes, symptoms and treatments here.


migraine are very common in children, good communication within your family is essential

Good communication within your family is essential.  Supporting your migraine child can generate a lot of anxiety in your family.  It is a good idea to get together and talk about the frustration that family members may feel over the fact their family may not be able to attend every important event, because of the child´s migraine attacks.

Migraines in school

communication between parents and school staffs to ensure a safe environment for their children

A good recommendation is to speak to the school staff about your child´s condition.  Talk with the teacher about the migraine treatments that your child´s doctor recommended and how to administer it.  Explain to the teacher what the proper treatment for your child is when they suffer a migraine attack.

Some things your child will have to do at school:

Encourage your child to eat at school

Lack of food can cause a migraine attack. Learn more about migraine and diet here.

Your child will have to take his/her migraine treatment to school

You will need to ask the school staff to keep a dose of the migraine medication and to give it to the child when necessary, or ask them to supervise the child when he/she takes the medication.  Parents can work with teachers, school nurses, and other health-related educators to raise awareness of the academic barriers that children with migraines have, due to potentially a lot of time lost from classes.

When the child takes their medication, they will sometimes recover quickly and will able to return to their normal activities.  If the attack doesn´t end the child will need to rest and sleep. Most of the children have recovered after they wake up from sleep.  It is very important that you as parents talk to your school staff and let them know about any side effects and what action to take if the child has these effects.

A classroom that is well ventilated helps some children have less attacks

To prevent attacks at school. Reducing stress may also help a child.  When children have had an attack and they are recovering from it is very difficult for them to do their homework.  You may want to talk with your child about when he/she feels more sensitive to attacks, so you can discover the trigger – for example during tests or exams.  Supporting your child to catch up on missed work may help also, to break the pattern of migraine attacks. 

It´s important for the child to feel as normal as possible, even though, the child needs special attention. 

As a parent, it is wise to get involved in your child´s school life and pay attention to your child´s grades and class attendance. 


Lack of food The most common dietary trigger for migraines is skipping meals, especially breakfast or eating a sugary snack instead of eating a complete healthy meal. This can contribute to a migraine attack in your child.  Your child may find that eating a small healthy snack at regular intervals can help to prevent migraines attacks.

Speak to your child´s teacher so your child can have snacks outside of normal recess times.  

DietSome people with an oncoming migraine may feel a craving for a certain kind of food. If the child eats that food it will be difficult to establish if the food eaten before the attack brought on the migraine, or if the attack was already starting. 

If your child thinks a certain food item triggers his/her migraine, first try to establish whether this is the case by using a migraine trigger diary.

Drinking water – if your child is very active, not drinking enough water could trigger a migraine attack.  A good recommendation is to schedule a regular water-drinking routine, this may mean asking permission from the school to let your child drink water during class.

Exercise – In some children, a migraine attack can be triggered by sudden physical exercise.  Schedule a routine for the child´s regular exercise. This can prevent migraine attacks.

Computer screens – The glow and light of the computer screen or TV can trigger a migraine attack in your child.  Encourage your child to take breaks from watching TV, working at the computer, or playing games.

Stress – children can feel stress due to a number of things.  Pressure from other children and worrying about exams or family problems commonly cause stress in children.  Its important to have good communication with your child and to be aware of these pressures and to help him/her to deal with them.  You can teach your child to relieve tension and pressure.

Health – Some children say that they are more likely to get a migraine when they are not feeling well for some another reason.  When they are suffering from a cold or a stomach bug they might be more susceptible to having a migraine attack.

Sleep – When a child´s sleep patterns of sleep are disturbed he/she can get migraines.  This includes sleeping too much, as well as not sleeping enough.  Scheduling a regular routine for getting up and going to bed can prevent migraines.

Environmental issues – certain environments, such as bright lights and changes in the weather may trigger a migraine and are difficult to avoid. 

Helping your Child Manage Migraine

teaching your child to have a healthy diet can help reducing their migraines

You can use non-pharmacological approaches in all young patients and they can be quite beneficial. Regular lifestyle routines and habits may prove very helpful for your child.  Consider the following:

  • Decrease the child´s caffeine intake from soft drinks and iced tea to only one daily portion.
  • Consider biofeedback therapy and stress management techniques.
  • Taking commonly used supplements like magnesium, riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is helpful to prevent migraines.
  • Have your child lie down with his/her head raised slightly.
  • Have your child take a hot bath or shower
  • Place a cold or warm compress on his/her forehead or neck
  • Shielding sun and light.  If you are at home, make sure you close the blinds and curtains to provide a cool and dark room.
  • When you´re out and you can´t control the environment, consider using kid-sized sunglasses and sleeping masks.
  • Controlling temperature.  Try to keep things as cool as possible for your child  in order to prevent a migraine attack.
  • Minimize noise.  Try to keep your child´s environment quiet.  Consider keeping child-size earplugs at hand.
  • Aromatherapy. Utilize high-quality products that contain soothing scents can be incredibly comforting and are safe for children.
  • Be sure your child takes his/her meds.  Some children need to be reminded to take their medication.  Pay attention to changes in your child´s migraine attacks (if they become more frequent or more severe) and be sure to tell your doctor since a new treatment approach may be needed.
  • Healthy life.  Try to stay alert to events in your child´s life and help guide him/her so as to maintain healthy habits.
  • Keep a migraine diary.  Encourage your child to write a migraine diary because is a great tool for understanding why they get migraines and how to prevent them.
  • Friends. You should encourage your child to be honest with their friends about migraine attacks.  Tell your child that they must talk to his/her friends about the symptoms and how their friends can help.
  • Home life. For parents, family talks and openness about a sister´s or brother´s migraine may encourage understanding and reduce resentments among siblings. 
  • Acupuncture.  You must select a well-trained professional.  Acupuncture is minimally invasive and has no major side effects or risks.

Managing your Child´s Migraine Nausea

Compiled using information from the following sources: