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Drugs may not be best weapon against teen migraines, study finds

SEATTLE -- A new study of migraine headaches suggests behavioral therapy "not medication -- may be the most effective weapon against migraine pain for teen-agers.

Researchers with the Ohio University Headache Treatment & Research Project enrolled 30 teens ages 12 to 17 in the pilot project. Half were treated with triptans -- a fairly new class of drugs widely used for migraine in adults -- and half were assigned to a phone-administered behavioral therapy program that included instruction in biofeedback and a variety of relaxation exercises.

Eighty percent of the kids receiving behavioral therapy recorded a decrease of more than half in the number of migraines per month, according to project manager Connie Cottrell, who will present the findings at the American Headache Society annual meeting June 21 in Seattle. Teens in this group also recorded an 80 percent reduction in the hours of activities missed due to migraine pain.

These preliminary results have prompted the researchers to begin plans for a larger study of the treatment of migraines in teens. The planned project will be modeled after a National Institutes of Health-sponsored adult migraine study currently under way at the university's headache clinics in Athens and Columbus.

Migraines are a debilitating health problem that affect some 8 million children and adolescents, resulting in more than 1 million lost school days each year, according to the JAMA Migraine Information Center. At the beginning of the study, participants in this pilot project, who kept daily diaries about their headaches, recorded an average of 3.3 migraines a month with moderate to severe pain. The teens also recorded an average of 5.1 hours per month when their headaches prevented them from participating in a variety of activities.

"Some of these kids were in so much pain, they were just tearful," Cottrell said. "There was one boy whose parent told me would just lie on the bed, hold his head
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Contact: Kelli Whitlock
whitlock@ohio.edu
740-593-2868
Ohio University
18-Jun-2002


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