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Prevalence of Migraine in Latin America


  • Luis E. Morillo MD, MSc,

  • Fernando Alarcon MD,

  • Nayesca Aranaga MD,

  • Sara Aulet MD, MSc,

  • Evelina Chapman MD, MSc,

  • Lucien Conterno MD, PhD,

  • Edmundo Estevez MD,

  • Felipe Garcia-Pedroza MD, MPH,

  • Juanita Garrido,

  • Miguel Macias-Islas,

  • Paulo Monzillo,

  • Lilia Nunez,

  • Noel Plascencia,

  • Carlos Rodriguez,

  • Yuri Takeuchi,

  • Latin American Migraine Study Group

  • From the Neuroscience Department—Neurology Unit, Hospital University de San Ignacio, Bogota, Colombia (Dr. Morillo); Hospital Eugenio Espejo, Servicio de Neurologia, Quito, Ecuador (Dr. Alarcon); Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela (Drs. Aranaga and Garrido); Unidad de Epidemiologia Clinica, Universidad Nacional de Tucuman, Tucuman, Argentina (Drs. Chapman and Aulet); Medicine School of Marilia, Marilia, Brazil (Drs. Conterno and Rodriguez); Instituto de la Comunicacion Humana, Mexico DF, Mexico (Dr. Garcia-Pedroza); CMN de Occidente del IMSS, Guadalajara, Mexico (Dr. Macias-Islas); Headache Center Hospital Santa Casa Misericordia Sao Pablo, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Dr. Monzillo); Servicio de Neurología Adultos CMN 20 de Noviembre, Mexico DF, Mexico (Drs. Nunez and Plascencia); and Fundacion Clinica Valle del Lili, Cali, Colombia (Dr. Takeuchi).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Luis E. Morillo, email:


Objective.—To determine the 1-year point prevalence of migraine among residents ≥15 years old in 12 Latin American urban communities, and record medical consultation preferences of the identified migraineurs.

Background.—Prevalence of migraine with or without aura in Latin American urban communities has not been established by large-scale population studies.

Methods.—A validated face-to-face interview questionnaire based on International Headache Society criteria was completed for all headache sufferers within selected households, in a cross-sectional study. The randomly selected populations were representative of urban communities from the six participating Latin American countries. The questionnaire used was identical in each of the six participating countries.

Results.—Of the 8618 people available for screening, 62% reported headache and 2637 completed interview questionnaires. Age-adjusted 1-year prevalence of migraine with or without aura for each country was (female/male, %): Argentina 6.1/3.8, Brazil 17.4/7.8, Colombia 13.8/4.8, Ecuador 13.5/2.9, Mexico 12.1/3.9, and Venezuela 12.2/4.7. Migraine prevalence was highest in women aged 30 to 50 years. In the year prior to the study, 42% of individuals interviewed and identified with migraine reported consulting a health professional about their headaches, most frequently (14%) a general practitioner. No previous diagnosis of migraine was reported by 65% of individuals with headache.

Conclusions.—In agreement with previous epidemiologic reports, migraine is also a common disorder in Latin American urban communities and predominantly affects women aged 30 to 50 years. Consultation preferences are also similar to those of previous reports.