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Can a Six-Year-Old Have Migraine Headaches?

Q: My six-year-old granddaughter is having headaches about once a month and I am worried. The headaches progress in this order: She says she is tired, then her head hurts on the right side above her eyebrow. She turns very pale and vomits. She sleeps anywhere from an hour to all night, then awakens feeling fine. Does this sound like a migraine and is it common for six year old?

A: Migraine can start at any age and what you describe sounds very much like it. The tiredness would be a “prodrome,” a warning sign that she is starting a headache. Migraine is most often on one side of the head, and often around the eye, temple and forehead. (Sometimes people think they don’t have migraine because their entire head hurts but migraine can be on both sides of the head, one side, or move from one side to another.) Most children who get migraines tend to get pale and vomiting is common. Most adults who had migraine as a child report that as they got older they no longer vomited with every attack.

Please be sure and have your granddaughter seen by a healthcare professional. It is quite likely that some treatment can be found to help relieve her headaches without her having to vomit and go to bed for several hours.

James W. Banks, MD, Ryan Headache Center, St. Louis, MO

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