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20 July 2005

Child headaches predict adult problems

Children who suffer from persistent headaches may not just "grow out" of them and could develop other physical and psychiatric problems as they grow older, researchers say.

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Children who suffer from persistent headaches may not just "grow out" of them and could develop other physical and psychiatric problems as they grow older, researchers say.

Researchers at Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine in London say that frequent headaches could be a sign of underlying psychosocial problems such as unhappiness, depression or illness within the family.

Childhood headaches can also lead to an increased risk of suffering from bad headaches, indigestion, rheumatism and other problems as adults.

Psychiatrist Paul Fearon and Matthew Hotopf analysed data from a national child development study of 11 000 people born on the same day in Britain in 1958 who had been assessed regularly from the age of seven to 33.

They looked at the frequency of headaches recorded when the children were seven and 11 years old. The more headaches, the more likely the children were to develop adult symptoms.

The findings, which are reported in the British Medical Journal Depression, show that divorce, separation, chronic illness of either parent and mental illness in the family were associated with recurrent headaches.

Children with frequent headaches also reported more backaches, indigestion, twitching, stomach ailments and psychological distress as adults.

 
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