Treating Migraines: It’s Different for Kids

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There was also no difference in the secondary outcomes of absolute reduction in headache days and headache-related disability as determined by PedMIDAS. The study was stopped early for futility. Compared with placebo, amitriptyline significantly increased fatigue (number needed to harm [NNH], 8) and dry mouth (NNH, 9) and was associated with three serious adverse events of altered mood. Compared with placebo, topiramate significantly increased paresthesia (NNH, 4) and weight loss (NNH, 13) and was associated with one serious adverse event—a suicide attempt.1


Higher-level evidence, lack of efficacy

This RCT provides new, higher-level evidence that demonstrates the lack of efficacy of amitriptyline and topiramate in the prevention of pediatric migraines. It also highlights the risk for increased adverse events with topiramate and amitriptyline.

Two of the three topiramate trials used in the older meta-analysis by El-Chammas and colleagues and this new RCT were included in an updated meta-analysis by Le and colleagues (total participants, 465) published in 2017.1,2,5 This newer meta-analysis found no statistical benefit associated with the use of topiramate over placebo. It demonstrated a nonsignificant decrease in the number of patients with at least a 50% relative reduction in headache frequency (risk ratio, 1.26) and in the overall number of headache days (mean difference, –0.77) in patients younger than 18.2 Both meta-analyses, however, showed an increase in the rate of adverse events in patients using topiramate versus placebo.2,5


Is there a gender predominance?

El-Chammas and colleagues describe male pediatric patients as being the predominant pediatric gender with migraines.5 However, they do not quote an incidence rate or cite the reference for this statement. No other reference to gender predominance was noted in the literature. The current study, in addition to the total population of the meta-analysis by Le and colleagues, included women as the predominant patient population.1,2 Hopefully, future studies will help to delineate whether there is a gender predominance and, if so, whether the current treatment data apply to both genders.


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