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Effect of Migraine on Pregnancy Planning: Insights From the American Registry for Migraine Research

Published:September 15, 2020DOI:



      To evaluate the effect of migraine on women’s pregnancy plans.

      Patients and Methods

      Participants were enrolled in the American Registry for Migraine Research, an observational study that recruits patients from headache specialty clinics across the United States. Data for this analysis were collected via patient-completed questionnaires completed from February 1, 2016, through September 23, 2019. Participants were adult women with migraine who answered the American Registry for Migraine Research family planning questions.


      Of 607 women, 19.9% (n=121) avoided pregnancy because of migraine. Compared with women who did not avoid pregnancy, those who did were younger (37.5±9.2 years vs 47.2±13.3 years; P<.001), had fewer children (0.8±1.1 vs 1.5±1.5; P<.001), and were more likely to have chronic migraine (n=99 [81.8%] vs n=341 [70.2%]; P=.012) and menstrually associated migraine (n=5 [4.1%] vs n=5[1.0%]; P=.031). Women who avoided pregnancy believed that their migraine would be worse during pregnancy (n=87[72.5%]), disability caused by migraine would make pregnancy difficult (n=82[68.3%]), the migraine medications they take would negatively affect their child’s development (n=92[76.0%]), and migraine would cause the baby to have abnormalities at birth (n=17[14.0%]).


      Migraine effects pregnancy plans of many women, especially of those who are younger and have menstrual migraine and chronic migraine. Women who avoid pregnancy because of migraine believe that migraine will worsen during pregnancy, make their pregnancy difficult, and have negative effects on their child. Study results highlight the importance of educating women with migraine about the relationships between migraine and pregnancy so that informed family planning decisions can be made.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      ARMR (American Registry for Migraine Research), CaMEO (Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes), CM (chronic migraine), ICHD-3 (International Classification of Headache Disorders-3), MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment), PHQ-4 (Patient Health Questionnaire-4)
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      Linked Article

      • Migraine Headaches and Family Planning: What We Think We Know
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 95Issue 10
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          Migraine headache is a nearly ubiquitous neurological disorder that disproportionately affects women and has already been identified as the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide in women under the age of 50.1 Not only is this disability associated with features of the disease of migraine itself, but there is also a vast influence that migraine headaches exert on other aspects of life even between attacks. Many people with migraine live in anticipation of their next attack, which is often unpredictable, and plan their life accordingly.
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