Young girls who reach the stage of puberty at an early age may be more likely to experience migraines, according to a new study conducted by a team from the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.
"We know that the percentage of girls and boys who have migraine is pretty much the same until menstruation begins," Vincent Martin, MD, a professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, told a news portal. Adding, "When the menstrual period starts in girls, the prevalence goes way up, but what our data suggests is that it occurs even before that."
In the US, the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF) revealed almost 10 per cent of children who are of school age, experience migraines. Girls start to experience migraines more frequently by the time they turn 17. Data from the MRF reveals the risk is 8 per cent for boys and 23 per cent for girls.
Through their investigation, the team found breast development and menstruation began about four months earlier in the girls who experienced migraines frequently. "There was a 25 per cent increase in the chance of having migraine for each year earlier that a girl experienced either thelarche or menarche," study author Susan Pinney, a professor in the UC Department of Environmental Health, told a news portal. Adding, "This suggests a strong relationship between early puberty and the development of migraine in adolescent girls."
Some studies conducted in the past suggest the onset of menstrual cycles may be the reason for the start of migraines. However, this study examines puberty at an earlier stage. "To suggest the origins of migraine may occur actually before menstrual periods begin is pretty novel," Martin told a news portal. "At each of these stages, different hormones are starting to appear in girls. During pubarche, testosterone and androgens are present, and during thelarche, there is the very first exposure to estrogen. Menarche is when a more mature hormonal pattern emerges. Our study implies that the very first exposure to estrogen could be the starting point for migraine in some adolescent girls. It may be the Big Bang Theory of migraine."
The study's findings were presented at the American Headache Society 61st Annual Scientific Meeting in the US.