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Background: Migraines are one of the most common causes of disability affecting both children and adults. Children and adolescents who suffer from migraines often continue to experience migraine attacks in adulthood. Previous studies of child migraine sufferers have not included those whose migraines were diagnosed after childhood. This study included these individuals in examining childhood migraine onset as a predictor of adult symptomology.
Methods: Participants were 4,502 United States adult migraine sufferers (202 males, 4300 females; mean age 45y 9mo, SD 10y 2mo) who completed a retrospective survey on a migraine community website. We grouped participants into three cohorts based on age of migraine symptom onset: Childhood Onset (0-12 years), Adolescence Onset (13-18 years), and Adulthood Onset (19+).
Results: As adults, the Childhood Onset Cohort experienced the most migraine symptoms (F(2,4499)=78.16; p<.001), triggers (F(2,4499)=114.99; p<.001), attacks per month (F(2,4499)=7.22; p=.001), and days per month with symptoms (F(2,4499)=12.05; p<.001) as well as the longest time between symptom onset and formal migraine diagnosis (F(2,4499)=354.64; p<.001). Childhood onset had a significant indirect effect on number of adult triggers through diagnosis delay (B=0.12, CI=0.02, 0.23), but diagnosis delay did not mediate the relationship between onset age and number of symptoms, attacks per month, or days with symptoms.
Conclusions: Migraine sufferers whose symptoms began in childhood reported worse adult migraine outcomes as well as a longer diagnosis delay. However, evidence did not suggest that diagnosis delay explained the relationship between onset age and adult migraine frequency. These results underscore the need to address other factors that may lead to unfavorable long-term outcomes for children experiencing migraines.
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