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Interview tool may aid in early diagnosis of childhood headache disorders

Findings recently published in Pediatrics show that a new structured interview developed by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health is an effective method for detecting migraine in children and teens in both clinical and community settings.

In the study (subscription required), 100 pediatric headache interviews were conducted as part of a community-based family study of migraine. A clinician had previously diagnosed migraine in 40 of the participants. Results showed that the overall sensitivity of the interview diagnosis compared with the expert neurologists' diagnosis of migraine was 98 percent and specificity was 61 percent.

Stanford neurologist Paul Fisher, MD, commented on the findings in a Medscape Medical News article (registration required):

[Fisher] noted, "[Researchers] showed nicely that a structured interview, performed by nonphysician personnel, could detect very well those children and teens suffering from headache."

He noted limitations of the study, including that the small sample was "enriched" with migraine patients, and that the tool is long.

Despite these issues, "the work demonstrates further that migraine is indeed a pediatric problem and can be screened for by primary care personnel, not just pediatricians and specialists.

"While the researchers' tool might help best in the investigational arena, their approach, and perhaps that of successors, offers hope that more children who suffer from migraine can be identified in everyday clinics and remedied, so they can continue on with other aspects of their lives," Dr. Fisher concluded.

Photo by Andrew Huff

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