Examining the Stress Response and Recovery Among Children With Migraine


Objective This study compared physiological differences between children diagnosed with migraine and their healthy peers.

Method Physiological measures were obtained at baseline, after discussing an emotional stressor, and after a 5-min recovery period in 21 children with pediatric migraine and 32 healthy peers. Comparisons were also made on psychological measures investigating anxiety.

Results Children with migraine exhibited a significantly higher pulse rate compared to comparison children at rest, and higher diastolic blood pressure and higher low-frequency/high-frequency ratio after a 5-min recovery from an emotional stressor. Additionally, when anxiety was entered as a covariate, group differences after the 5-min recovery period were no longer significant.

Conclusions Results suggest that relative to comparison children, children with migraine exhibit some physiological elevation at rest, as well as a prolonged physiological recovery period after an emotional stressor. Group differences after the 5-min recovery period suggest that children with migraine experience delayed sympathetic hyperarousal and prolonged sympathovagal imbalance. The treatment implications of these findings are discussed.

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This article was made available online October 15, 2008.

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