Recognizing and Diagnosing Pediatric Migraine: Christina Szperka, MD, MSCE

The director of the CHOP Pediatric Headache Program commented on the commonality of migraine in children and the need to improve diagnostic practices. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“I think the most important thing, when I think about the overall landscape, honestly, is making sure that we increase recognition because we're not going to improve treatment nor going to help those kids to get through that day and minimize a disability unless we recognize the problem for what it is.”

Although approximately 9% of children suffer from migraine, the condition is often underrecognized. Migraine is more common in adolescents than in younger children, interfering with daily life and leading to missed days of school or presenteeism, wherein children attend school but may have reduced functionality. 

Christina Szperka, MD, MSCE, director, Pediatric Headache Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, spoke with NeurologyLive® on this issue, calling for an increase in recognition of the condition itself. Szperka cited work that has been done to coordinate with pediatricians, as when the issue of headache or migraine comes up, it is often during a well-child check. As there is already an ample amount of care being provided in these visits, Szperka noted the need for children or parents to bring up the issue during the initial visit and allowing for an additional appointment to explore treatment options. 

In recent years, there has been an increase in awareness of migraine, thanks to organizations such as the American Migraine Foundation, the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients, and Miles for Migraine, Szperka said, as well as in part due to pharmaceutical companies that have advertised migraine medications on television. This comes in tandem with recognition of familial history of migraine, with parents acknowledging there is better understanding of the condition now than there may have been if they dealt with migraine as a child.