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French General Practitioners' Management of Children's Migraine Headaches


  • Jean-Christophe Cuvellier MD,

  • Antoine Fily MD,

  • Sylvie Joriot MD,

  • Jean-Marie Cuisset MD,

  • Louis Vallée MD, PhD

  • From the Department of Child Neurology, Pediatric Clinic, University Hospital, Lille, France (Drs. Cuvellier, Joriot, Cuisset, and Vallée); Department of Neonatology, University Hospital, Lille, France (Dr. Fily).

Address all correspondence to Dr. J.C. Cuvellier, Service de Neuropédiatrie, Clinique de Pédiatrie, Hôpital Roger-Salengro, Boulevard du Pr Leclercq, Centre Hospitalier Régional et Universitaire de Lille, 59037 Lille cedex, France.


Objectives.—This study sought to examine the treatment of children with migraine headaches in a prospective sample of children referred to a tertiary center for headaches.

Background.—Despite the wide diffusion of guidelines for headache management in children, their application in general practice is far from optimal.

Methods.—This prospective study analyzed previous headache treatment by general practitioners in 151 consecutive children (F/M: 0.82; mean age 10.4 ± 3.2 years) referred for migraines to the Lille University Hospital Neuropediatric department between October 1, 2003, and November 30, 2005. The physician completed a questionnaire according to the parents' responses to questions about previous advice about life-style adjustments (diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene) and abortive and prophylactic treatment. Questions about abortive treatment covered ergot derivatives, triptans, and 3 aspects of ibuprofen use—appropriate dose (ie, more than 7.5 mg/kg), recommendation to administer the drug early in attacks, and warnings about drug abuse. Under the topic of prophylactic treatment, we asked about information from general practitioners about preventive therapy and advice to keep a headache diary.

Results.—Fewer than 15% of patients had received advice about life-style adjustments. Only 30.3% had received ibuprofen at a correct dose (more than 7.5 mg/kg); only 26.5% were told to use it early during the headache; and only 9.1% were warned about drug abuse. Ergot derivatives were prescribed to 4.6% of children and triptans to 9.1%. Families of 17.9% reported that the general practitioners gave them information about prophylactic treatment. Only 8.0% were advised to keep a headache diary.

Conclusion.—This study shows the need to increase the role and the involvement of family doctors in the management of primary headache in children in general, and of pediatric migraine in particular.