Pediatric Neurology volume 26, issue 5, P365-368 2002 DOI: 10.1016/s0887-8994(01)00416-7

Pediatric migraine equivalents

Waleed A. Al-Twaijri, Michael I. Shevell
Abstract: Migraine equivalents of infancy, childhood, and adolescence are recognized periodic, paroxysmal syndromes without associated headache that are thought to be migrainous in etiology. Five such equivalents are presently recognized. Their clinical features and relative frequency in ambulatory pediatric neurology practice have not been well documented. Utilizing a comprehensive, standardized computer database, the occurrence of these migraine equivalents in a single pediatric neurology practice together with their observed clinical features were documented over an 8-year period. Of a total of 5,848 patients in the database, of whom 1,106 were migraineurs, 108 patients (1.8% of total, 9.8% of migraineurs) were identified to have migraine equivalents. The following distribution among migraine equivalents was observed: benign paroxysmal torticollis 11 (10.2% of patients with migraine equivalents), benign paroxysmal vertigo 41 (38%), abdominal migraine/cyclical vomiting 20 (18.5%), acephalgic migraine 31 (28.7%), and acute confusional migraine 5 (4.6%). In each type, with the exception of benign paroxysmal torticollis and acute confusional migraine, females clearly predominated, and in all types a strong positive family history of migraine was elicited (68%-100%). There was variation in the age of onset of a particular equivalent with considerable overlap observed. Coexisting more typical migraines were observed in from 10% (benign paroxysmal torticollis) to 70% (abdominal migraines/cyclical vomiting) of the cases. In conclusion, pediatric migraine equivalents occur with relative frequency in ambulatory practice, possessing discrete clinical features that have a clear relationship to more typical migrainous phenomena.
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