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January 1992

Headaches in Children Younger Than 7 Years of Age

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics and the Montefiore Headache Unit, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. Dr Chu is now with the Center for Neuromuscular and Developmental Disorders, Hospital for Joint Diseases—Orthopedic Institute, New York, NY.

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(1):79-82. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530250083020

• Headache in young children is frequently a cause of concern to parents and physicians. We have reviewed our experience with 104 children with onset of headaches prior to 7 years of age seen by age 9 years. Headaches could be classified in more than 90% of cases. The most common headache type in this population referred to a child neurologist was migraine that constituted 75% of the cases. Seventy-two of 78 cases were common migraine. Posttraumatic headaches accounted for an additional 12%. Associated symptoms such as autonomic signs, nausea, and vomiting were common, particularly in the migraine group. Neuroimaging studies when performed did not reveal any significant abnormalities. Other laboratory tests were also generally unhelpful. No child has gone on to develop new neurologic abnormalities or evidence of an intracranial tumor. We conclude that even in young children headaches are generally benign. Even in this population, neuroimaging studies have a very low yield in the absence of other symptoms and findings and are not always indicated.