A new Danish study finds that migraines in pregnant women are linked to higher blood pressure, caesareans, preterm births, abortions and babies with low birth weight.
“The study shows that pregnant women with migraine more often have complications in connection with their pregnancy and childbirth than women who don’t suffer from migraine,” said lead author Nils Skajaa, B.Sc., a researcher at the department of clinical epidemiology at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
“Newborn babies whose mothers suffered from migraine during pregnancy also have an increased risk of complications such as respiratory distress and febrile seizures.”
The researchers used the Danish health registers to identify more than 22,000 pregnant women with migraine who were in contact with a hospital as a result of their migraine or had received at least two prescriptions for migraine medication.
The migraine group was compared with an approximately 10 times larger group of pregnant women without known migraine.
The researchers found that the risk of having a caesarean section was between 15 to 25 percent higher for pregnant women with migraine compared with pregnant women without migraine. Around 20 percent of all births in Denmark are by caesarean section.
The team used the same data to conclude that migraine medication possibly prevents some of the complications. However, the results must be interpreted with caution, researchers said.
“The study was not specifically designed to examine this aspect. However, we show that the risk of complications generally was lower for pregnant women with migraine who took medication when compared with the pregnant women with migraines who were not treated,” said Skajaa.
“This also indicates that the migraine medication isn’t the cause of the complications, but rather the migraine itself. This is important knowledge for pregnant women with migraines.”
Migraines are relatively common and affect twice as many women as men. The actual cause remains unknown, but previous research suggests that migraines may be triggered by stress, fatigue, or hormonal changes such as pregnancy.
“Paradoxically, women of childbearing age are particularly hard hit by migraines. Although experience shows that migraines become milder during pregnancy, this study emphasises that the health care service should be particularly aware of pregnant women with migraine,” Skajaa said.
The findings are published in the journal Headache.
Source: Aarhus University