News Release

Pregnant women with migraine at higher risk of complications, new research finds

Women who suffer from migraines are more likely to endure obstetric and postnatal complications, a study presented today at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) has found

Peer-Reviewed Publication


(Vienna, Sunday, 20 June, 2021) Women who suffer from migraines are more likely to endure obstetric and postnatal complications, a study presented today at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) has found.

Pregnant women with migraines had a higher risk of developing obstetric and post partum complications. Migraine pregnant women had increased risk of been admitted to high-risk departments- 6% in non-migraine pregnant women, 6.9% in migraine without aura and 8.7% in pregnant women who suffer from migraine with aura.

Pregnant migraine patients had significantly increased risk of gestational diagnosis of diabetes, hyperlipidemia and blood clots. During labour women who suffer from migraines had higher rates of epidural anaesthesia (p<0.0001) but were not at increased risk of assisted deliveries.

The research carried out in Israel, analysed the pregnancies of 145,102 women between 2014-2020 (first pregnancy in the period per woman). Researchers investigated the mode of delivery, medical and obstetric complications in each trimester and the use of medications throughout the pregnancy. Within the research 12,222 women experienced migraines, and 1,576 had migraine with author.

The lead author of the study, Nirit Lev MD PhD, commented, "Our study confirms that women who suffer from migraine are at a greater risk of a host of medical and obstetric complications. As such, we are recommended that these women should be classed as 'high-risk' pregnancies and should therefore be treated according to a high-risk protocol."

During high-risk pregnancies, special monitoring and care throughout the pregnancy is required. Existing factors that contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include advanced maternal age, women who are carrying more than one baby and if complications arose during a previous pregnancy. Existing health problems, including diabetes, epilepsy and high-blood pressure, also mean women a placed under the high-risk protocol.

"Migraine sufferers were also found to have a greater risk of developing depression during their pregnancy and after giving birth", explained Professor Lev. "As a result, they should also be offered a neurological consultation during pregnancy adequate follow-up support after giving birth."

Migraines are one of the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting more than one in ten people2. They are mainly characterised by an intense headache localised to one side of the head, with other symptoms including nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light. The pain experienced during a migraine often worsens with movement or activity, making it an extremely debilitating disorder. Recent research has also found that migraine is three times more common in women than in men, and hormonal changes related to menstruation, menopause and childbirth results in worse migraine activity.


Notes to Editors:

For further information or to speak to Professor Nirit Lev, please contact Luke Paskins or Sean Deans at or call +44 (0) 20 8154 6396.

About the Expert:

Nirit Lev MD PhD is the head of the department of Neurology, Meir Medical Center and a Senior Researcher in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

EAN - The Home of Neurology:

The European Academy of Neurology (EAN) is Europe's home of neurology. Founded in 2014, through the merger of two European neurological societies, EAN represents the interests of more than 45,000 individual members and 47 national institutional members from across the continent.

EAN welcomes the interest of press in neurological issues and provides assistance to journalists attending the congress or using the EAN website as a resource in their coverage, with pleasure.

As the number of lives affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has now reached the millions, the health and safety of our congress attendees, our patients, and our families, remains our primary concern.

With this in mind, EAN decided to go virtual again for the 7th EAN Congress on June 19-22, 2021.

References: 1. Migraine in pregnancy and post partum- epidemiological and clinical characteristics. Presented at the EAN Congress 2021. 2. Woldeamanuel YW, Cowan RP. Migraine affects 1 in 10 people worldwide featuring recent rise: a systematic review and meta-analysis of community-based studies involving 6 million participants. J Neurol Sci. 2017;372:307-15.

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