Obstetrics & gynaecology

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

Credit: Sasha Wolff/Wikipedia

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 post partum complications. They also had increased risk of admission to high-risk departments—6 percent in non-migraine pregnant women, 6.9 percent in migraine without aura and 8.7 percent 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

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 author.

The lead author of the study, Nirit Lev MD Ph.D., 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 1 in 10 people. They are mainly characterized by an intense headache localized 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.


Migraine increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth


More information:
Migraine in pregnancy and post partum- epidemiological and clinical characteristics. Presented at the EAN Congress 2021.

Woldeamanuel YW, Cowan RP. Migraine affects 1 in 10 people worldwide featuring recent rise: a systematic review and meta-analysis of community-based studies involving 6 million participants. J Neurol Sci. 2017;372:307-15.

Provided by
The European Academy of Neurology

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Pregnant women with migraine at higher risk of complications, new research finds (2021, June 21)
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