Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Richard Milich


This study compared psychological and physiological differences between children diagnosed with migraine and their healthy peers. Physiological measures were obtained at baseline, after discussing an emotionally relevant stressor, and after recovery in 21 children with pediatric migraine and 32 healthy peers. Comparisons were also made on psychological measures investigating sleep problems, anxiety, and family stress. It was hypothesized that children with migraine compared to their peers 1) would report more sleep disturbances, anxiety, and family stress 2) would exhibit greater sympathetic activation at rest, in response to an emotional stressor, and after a recovery period and 3) that autonomic functioning would mediate the relation between the presence of pediatric migraine and sleep disturbances. Results indicated that the migraine group reported significantly greater anxiety compared to peers but there were no significant differences in sleep disturbances or family stress. Within the migraine group, migraine severity was significantly associated with total sleep disturbance and greater incidence of parasomnias, while migraine duration was significantly associated with greater night time awakenings. Migraine children also exhibited a significantly higher pulse rate compared to their peers at rest and a significantly higher diastolic blood pressure and marginally significant higher LF/HF ratio at recovery from an emotional stressor. These findings suggest that sleep disturbance and pediatric migraine are significantly related but the relation is unclear and warrants additional research. Results also indicate that children with migraine may experience more anxiety than peers. Of most interest, results suggest that children with migraine may experience a disinhibition of the autonomic nervous system characterized by a dominance of the sympathetic nervous system resulting in a longer recovery period following an emotional stressor.



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