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Pregnant women with migraine at higher risk of complications, new research finds

Women who suffer from migraines are more likely to endure obstetric and postnatal complications, a study presented today at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) has found.

Pregnant women with migraines had a higher risk of developing obstetric and postpartum complications. Migraine pregnant women had increased risk of been admitted to high-risk departments- 6% in non-migraine pregnant women, 6.9% in migraine without aura and 8.7% in pregnant women who suffer from migraine with aura.

Pregnant migraine patients had significantly increased risk of gestational diagnosis of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and blood clots. During labor women who suffer from migraines had higher rates of epidural anesthesia (p<0.0001) but were not at increased risk of assisted deliveries.

The research carried out in Israel, analyzed the pregnancies of 145,102 women between 2014-2020 (first pregnancy in the period per woman). Researchers investigated the mode of delivery, medical and obstetric complications in each trimester, and the use of medications throughout the pregnancy. Within the research 12,222 women experienced migraines, and 1,576 had migraine with aura.

The lead author of the study, Nirit Lev MD PhD, commented, "Our study confirms that women who suffer from migraine are at a greater risk of a host of medical and obstetric complications. As such, we are recommended that these women should be classed as 'high-risk' pregnancies and should therefore be treated according to a high-risk protocol."

During high-risk pregnancies, special monitoring and care throughout the pregnancy is required. Existing factors that contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include advanced maternal age, women who are carrying more than one baby and if complications arose during a previous pregnancy. Existing health problems, including diabetes, epilepsy and high-blood pressure, also mean women a placed under the high-risk protocol.

"Migraine sufferers were also found to have a greater risk of developing depression during their pregnancy and after giving birth", explained Professor Lev. "As a result, they should also be offered a neurological consultation during pregnancy adequate follow-up support after giving birth."

Migraines are one of the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting more than one in ten people2. They are mainly characterized by an intense headache localised to one side of the head, with other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light. The pain experienced during a migraine often worsens with movement or activity, making it an extremely debilitating disorder. Recent research has also found that migraine is three times more common in women than in men, and hormonal changes related to menstruation, menopause and childbirth results in worse migraine activity.

Source: News Release
June 19, 2021

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