Associations Between Maternal and Offspring Migraine Examined

mother child
Researchers found a strong association between mothers who have migraines and their children.
Researchers found a strong association between mothers who have migraines and their children.

Parental migraine is associated with offspring migraine, to a greater extent in maternal-offspring migraine, according to a study published in Cephalalgia.

Researchers conducted this cross-sectional, population-based cohort study to investigate the familial transmission of migraine, separating mothers and fathers, in the general population. Inhabitants of NordTrøndelag county, Norway, were invited to participate, resulting in a final study sample of mothers (n=8015), fathers (n=5716), and offspring (n=8970). A sensitivity analysis using a larger sample of individuals of all ages was conducted to examine how using age-truncated samples affected the analyses. Headache diagnoses were obtained through structured interviews in the younger cohort and with questionnaires based on a modified version of the International Classification of Headache Disorders II in the adult cohort. Covariates, such as parental level of education; anxiety and depression; exposure to smoking in the home; and parental physical activity were also collected in the same surveying techniques.

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Maternal and paternal migraine were both significantly associated with migraines in their offspring; there was a stronger association between mothers and offspring compared with fathers and offspring (P =.004). In secondary analyses, both low- and high-frequent parental migraine were associated with offspring migraine. There was a significant association found between maternal headache and offspring headache when examining non-migrainous headache. The association remained significant between mothers and daughters only when stratifying on offspring sex.

This study is limited by its cross-sectional design, which renders causal inference difficult. Only active headache was assessed, which may further present a limitation.

Researchers concluded that parental and offspring migraine could be due to genetic and/or environmental factors, however, twin and family migraine studies have not demonstrated any effect of shared environment on migraine.

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Børte S, Zwart JA, Stensland SO, Hagen, K, Winsvold BS. Parental migraine in relation to migraine in offspring: family linkage analyses from the HUNT Study [published online February 2, 2019]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102419828989.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor