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Keywords:

  • medication overuse headache;
  • chronic daily headache;
  • child;
  • adolescence;
  • prevalence

Objective.— To investigate the prevalence of medication overuse headache (MOH) in a group of children and adolescents seen for headache in a third-level center in Italy.

Background.— Epidemiological studies indicate a prevalence of MOH in children and adolescents between 0.3 and 0.5%; no data are available for the Italian population.

Methods.— We studied a group of first-seen children and adolescents (118 patients, 43.2% male and 56.8% female, mean age: 11.9 years). A detailed history was taken, using criteria defined by Olesen et al to assess the presence of MOH. Statistical correlations between demographic and diagnostic variables were assessed.

Results.— Eleven (9.3%) of our patients presented MOH; in the group with chronic daily headache, the prevalence raised to 20.8%. At follow up, after introduction of a more rationale treatment, most patients improved, but 2 of them reported a worsening of their headache.

Conclusions.— We believe that a strong warning regarding medication overuse in headache therapy is essential for pediatricians and neuropsychiatrists.