Public Release:  Adverse childhood experiences linked to frequent headache in adults

American Headache Society

LOS ANGELES (June 23, 2010) - Children who experience maltreatment such as emotional, physical and sexual abuse are more likely to experience frequent headaches, including chronic migraine, as adults, say scientists presenting data at the American Headache Society's 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Los Angeles this week.

Using data from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study of 17,337 adult members of the Kaiser Health Plan in San Diego, Gretchen E. Tietjen, MD, of the University of Toledo College Of Medicine, and her team found that the number of ACEs showed a graded relationship to the likelihood of experiencing frequent headaches. Her study was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We looked at eight ACEs -- emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, growing up with mental illness in the home, having household members who were incarcerated or were abusing drugs, and experiencing parental separation or divorce,." said Dr. Tietjen. "Each ACE increased the chance of frequent headache, and as the number of ACEs increased, so did the risk of frequent headache. This 'dose-response' relationship' suggests that ACEs may contribute to the development and frequency of severe headaches later in life."

"Earlier studies have linked childhood maltreatment to frequent headaches and migraine," said David Dodick, M.D., president of the AHS. "The biological underpinnings of this relationship should be a target of future research and clinicians should be aware of and evaluate for this important relationship in order to facilitate appropriate management strategies"

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More than 200 scientific papers and posters are being presented during the AHS meeting which is expected to draw some 500 migraine and headache health professionals including doctors, researchers, and specialists.

About the American Headache Society

The American Headache Society® (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the study and treatment of headache and face pain. The Society's objectives are to promote the exchange of information and ideas concerning the causes and treatments of headache and related painful disorders. Educating physicians, health professionals and the public and encouraging scientific research are the primary functions of this organization. AHS activities include an annual scientific meeting, a comprehensive headache symposium, regional symposia for neurologists and family practice physicians, publication of the journal Headache and sponsorship of the AHS Committee for Headache Education (ACHE). www.americanheadachesociety.org

About the American Migraine Foundation

The American Migraine Foundation is a non-profit foundation supported by the American Headache Society and generous donors dedicated to the advancement of migraine research. The mission of this newly formed foundation is to support innovative research that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches. www.americanmigrainefoundation.org

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