Health + Wellness

Could Migraines Raise Odds for Complications in Pregnancy?


Women who suffer from migraines may have a higher risk of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications, a new study suggests. Black women have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of preeclampsia (12.4%) compared with Hispanic (8.2%) and white women (7.1%), according to John Hopkins Medicine.

The researchers looked at more than 30,000 pregnancies in about 19,000 women over a 20-year period.

“Roughly 20% of women of childbearing age experience migraine, but the impact of migraine on pregnancy outcomes has not been well understood,” says study author Alexandra Purdue-Smithe. She is an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“Our large prospective study found links between migraine and pregnancy complications that could help inform doctors and women with migraine of potential risks they should be aware of,” Purdue-Smithe said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

RELATED: 5 Things You Never Knew Were Triggering Your Migraines

What the study shows

For the study, her team assessed rates of complications such as preterm deliverygestational diabetes and high blood pressure, low birth weight and preeclampsia, a complication marked by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems. It threatens the life of both mother and baby.

After adjusting for age, obesity and other factors that could affect the risk of pregnancy complications, the researchers found that women with migraine had a 17% higher risk of preterm delivery, a 28% higher risk of gestational high blood pressure and a 40% higher risk of preeclampsia than women without migraine.

Among migraine sufferers, 10% had preterm delivery, 7% had gestational high blood pressure and 6% had preeclampsia. Rates were 8%, 5% and 3%, respectively, among women without migraine, the investigators found.

The risk of preeclampsia was much higher among women who had migraine with aura, in which visual disturbances (such as flashing lights)

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