Traumatic events in childhood increase risk of headaches in adulthood

Children who go through trauma may be prone to headaches as adults. New research has found an association between headaches and traumatic events in childhood, such as abuse, neglect or family dysfunction.

“Traumatic events in childhood can have serious health implications later in life,” said study author Catherine Kreatsoulas of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston. «Our meta-analysis confirms that traumatic events in childhood are important risk factors for headache in adulthood, including migraine, tension headaches, cluster headaches and chronic or severe headaches. “This is a risk factor that we cannot ignore.”

His team conducted a meta-analysis of 28 studies that included more than 154,000 people in 19 countries. Among them, more than 48,000 people reported at least one traumatic event. Nearly 25,000 people were diagnosed with primary headaches. About 26% of those with a traumatic event in childhood were diagnosed with a primary headache disorder, compared to 12% of participants who had not suffered trauma.

Those who experienced childhood trauma were 48% more likely to have headache disorders than those who had not had those experiences. As the number of traumatic events in childhood increased, the odds of having headaches also increased, according to the study. Compared to people who had not experienced childhood trauma, those who had experienced one type of traumatic event had a 24% increased risk of developing a headache disorder. But those who had suffered four or more traumatic events were more than twice as likely to have a headache disorder.

The researchers also categorized the types of trauma into different groups. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as witnessing threats of violence and serious family conflicts, were categorized as “threatening traumas.”

Neglect, economic hardship, having a household member incarcerated, divorce or separation, parental death, and living in a home with mental illness, chronic disability or illness, or alcohol or substance abuse were considered life trauma. deprivation.

Threat traumas were linked to a 46% increase in headaches. Deprivation trauma was linked to a 35% increase in headaches. Specific trauma threats, physical and sexual abuse, were linked to a 60% increased risk of headaches.

For deprivation traumas, those who experienced neglect in childhood had a nearly three-fold increased risk of headache disorders. The researchers noted that only an association was seen between past trauma and future headaches, rather than a relationship of cause and effect. The findings were published on October 25 in the journal Neurology.

“This meta-analysis highlights that childhood traumatic events categorized as threatening or deprivation traumas are important and independent risk factors for headache disorders in adulthood,” Kreatsoulas said in a journal news release.