Greater incidences of violence a person has been exposed to in childhood, he or she is more prone to having migraines.

According to researchers at the University of Toronto, witnessing or experiencing drastic incidents in childhood, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence increases the odds of these individuals having migraine headaches in adulthood. The recently conducted study was published in the journal Headache.

Link To Adulthood Migraines

Researchers examined a nationally representative sample, which included 10,358 men and 12,638 women, all of whom were 18 years of age or above. The sample was drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health of 2012.

According to Sarah Brennenstuhl, PhD, who is the first author of the study, investigators saw that the greater incidences of violence a person has been exposed to in childhood, the greater the chances were that he or she suffered from migraine headaches.  

Individuals who had been exposed to all three forms of adversities as children – parental domestic violence, physical abuse and sexual abuse – had odds a little over three times greater of experiencing migraines in men and a little under three times greater for women.

Confounders Controlled – Association Still Exists

The study controlled all external and intervening variables such as age and medical history, and was still able to establish a correlation between adversities and migraines.

“Even after accounting for variables including age, race, socioeconomic status, history of depression and anxiety, and childhood physical and sexual abuse, men and women who had witnessed parental domestic violence had 52% and 64% higher odds of migraine, respectively, compared to those without such a history,” reported co-author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Professor and Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Importance Of Findings

Even though the cross sectional design of the study does not allow researchers to establish a definitive causative relation between childhood adversities and migraine headaches, researchers are still optimistic about the use of their findings.

“Our findings underline the importance of future prospective studies investigating the long-term physical health of children exposed to parental domestic violence,” stated Fuller-Thomson.