FEB 01, 2023 7:00 AM PST

Migraine History May Increase Risk for Pregnancy Complications

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Women diagnosed with migraine prior to getting pregnant are at a significantly higher risk for pregnancy complications. The corresponding study was published in Neurology

A migraine is a moderate to severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. It may be experienced alongside symptoms such as nausea and increased sensitivity to light and sound. The condition occurs in up to three times as many women as men: whereas 1 in 5 women experience migraine throughout their lifetime, the same is true for 1 in 15 men. 

Migraine is especially common among women during their reproductive years- 18 to 44 years old. Whereas migraine has been linked to higher cardiovascular and stroke risk, relatively few studies have investigated its impact on pregnancy complications. To shed more light on this topic, the researchers behind the present study analyzed health records from 19, 694 women who underwent 30, 555 pregnancies. Among the cohort, 11% of participants experienced pre-pregnancy migraine. 

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that, compared to women with no history of migraine prior to pregnancy, those diagnosed with migraine beforehand had a 40% higher risk of preeclampsia, 28% higher risk of gestational hypertension, and a 17% higher risk of preterm delivery. They noted, however, that migraine was not linked to lower birth weight or gestational diabetes mellitus. 

The researchers further noted that those who reported using aspirin more than twice weekly before pregnancy had a 45% lower risk for preterm delivery. Currently, the US Preventative Services Task Force recommends low-dose aspirin during pregnancy for those with more than one moderate risk factor for, or a high risk of, preeclampsia.

The first author of the study, Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, Ph.D., Associate Epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release

“Our findings of reduced risk of preterm delivery among women with migraine who reported regular aspirin use prior to pregnancy suggests that aspirin may also be beneficial for women with migraine. Given the observational nature of our study, and the lack of detailed information on aspirin dosage available in the cohort, clinical trials will be needed to definitively answer this question."


Sources: Science DailyNeurology

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets.
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