Advice Column, Education, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting

Learning Difficulties Linked To Headaches

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  • Category Advice Column, Education, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting

It is the start of the school year and many children are refreshed after the summer holidays. Unfortunately some children are frustrated by learning difficulties or Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A recent study found something noteworthy: There is an association between headache diagnosis and school achievements.

The study, published in Pediatric Nursing, found that learning disabilities and ADHD are more common in children and adolescents who are referred for neurological assessment due to primary headaches than is described in the general pediatric population.

Dr. Elliot Shevel, a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the medical director of The Headache Clinic, says the research shows poor to average school academic performance were more prevalent among children with headaches. “We should look deeper at poor performance. It might be more complicated than parents think,” says Shevel.

A retrospective review of medical records of children and adolescents who presented with headache to outpatient pediatric neurology clinics during a one year period was done. Demographics, Headache type, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities and academic achievements were assessed.

A total of 243 patients met the inclusion criteria and were assessed: 135 (55.6%) females and 108 (44.4%) males. 44% were diagnosed with migraine (35.8% of the males and 64.2% of the females), 47.7% were diagnosed with tension type headache (50.4% of the males and 49.6% of the females). Among patients presenting with headache for the first time, 24% were formerly diagnosed with learning disabilities and 28% were diagnosed with ADHD.

When to see a doctor

It is crucial that if your headaches persist, you should get to the root of the problem. The longer the headache persists, the more damage will be done to the underlying structures. “A multidisciplinary assessment will need to be done,” is Shevel’s advice. Contact The Headache Clinic for help in this regard.

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