• Environment;
  • heritability;
  • migraine;
  • structural equation modelling;
  • tension type headache;
  • twins

The major objective of the present study was to estimate genetic and environmental influences on recurrent headaches in prepubescent twins. A nationwide cohort of 8 to 9-year-old Swedish twins (n=1,480) was screened for nonsymptomatic and recurrent headaches through a questionnaire mailed to their parents (75% response frequency). Among positives, 79% of headaches were classified as migraine or tension-type headache in close accordance with the International Headache Society criteria. The prevalences of migraine and nonmigrainous headaches were 2.4% and 11.3%, respectively, and without significant differences between the sexes or zygosity types. Inheritance on liability to recurrent headaches was estimated to 70% (a2= 0.70, 95% CI=0.54–0.82) for boys and girls but the genetic effect was found to be uncorrelated between the sexes. We conclude that genetic and individual specific effects are important for recurrent headaches of migrainous and nonmigrainous types in prepubescent children, and that different genetic etiologies might exist for boys and girls.