Which came first? Chronic Migraine or the Baby?

March 29, 2012

Sleepless nights filled with restless discomfort and crying — yours and the baby’s — how did it all start and when will it get better?  This is life inside the home of a newborn colicky baby.  You’ve had chronic headaches for most of your life.  But now that your new bundle of joy has colic, your favorite migraine treatments no longer seem to work.

If you are a mother with a history of chronic headaches, don’t be surprised if your agitated little newborn is also feeling miserable and overstressed right along with you.  A recent study might help explain the common phenomenon of chronic headache-suffering moms and colicky newborns coexisting in misery.

Dr. Amy Gelfand, a child neurologist, and her team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco surveyed 154 new mothers who brought their infants to their two-month pediatric checkup.  This is generally the age at which colic distress peaks.  They were asked about their own history of chronic headaches and the crying habits of their babies.  The results showed that of the infants with colic, 29 percent had mothers with a history of chronic headaches compared with 11 percent whose mothers did not have the condition.  So a mother with chronic headaches is more than two-and-a-half times more likely to have a baby with colic.

Could this mean that your baby is crying because you have a chronic headache and that you have a headache because your baby is crying…..?

There is some good news to share.  Dr. Gelfand’s research suggests that the conservative therapeutic migraine treatment you use for yourself may also be soothing to your baby as.  Turning down the lights, lowering the noise, and generally shielding your infant from a lot of stimuli will provide needed relief from the excessive stimulation her world beyond the warm, soothing womb.

In fact, this might be a migraine treatment worth sharing with friends who don’t have the condition… but could use a little help with a crying infant.  We have all had a headache from that.

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