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Family History of Migraine and Frequency Linked

Cephalalgia; 2019 Feb; Pelzer, Louter, et al

Migraine frequency, as measured by the number of migraine days per month, seems associated with a genetic predisposition only in males, according to a recent study. A stronger family history of migraine was also associated with a lower age-at-onset, a higher number of medication days, and migraine with aura. These findings suggest that specific clinical features of migraine seem more determined by genetic factors. Researchers investigated in 2,829 migraine patients (14% males) whether “migraine frequency” (measured as the number of migraine days per month) was related to “genetic load” (measured as the number of parents affected with migraine) using a validated web-based questionnaire. In addition, they investigated associations with age-at-onset, migraine subtype, use of acute headache medication, and comorbid depression. They found:

  • There was an association between the number of migraine days per month and family history of migraine for males, but not for females.
  • This association was confirmed in a linear regression analysis.
  • Also, a lower age-at-onset, having migraine with aura, and a high number of medication days were associated with a stronger family history of migraine, whereas lifetime depression was not.


Pelzer N, Louter MA, van Zwet EW, et al. Linking migraine frequency with family history of migraine. Cephalalgia. 2019;39(2):229–236. doi:10.1177/0333102418783295.