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My dad gets migraines. Does that mean I will get them as well? 

Short answer, yes.

Studies have shown that the common migraine can be transmissible from parent to offspring in 34-64% of people. However, results vary with different types of migraines, environmental factors, and hormonal factors.

For instance, there are two subtypes of migraines:

  • Migraine without aura – the most common, affecting about 70% of migraineurs.
  • Migraine with aura – affecting approximately 30%. Migraine with aura is best known as having visual disturbances but can also affect speech and sensory-related symptoms, muscle weakness, and motor disturbance in some cases.


Hereditary Nature of Migraine 

The Research Behind Hereditary Migraine

Research on familial migraine and twin studies has revealed that individuals who suffer from migraine without aura are twice as likely to have family members who also experience migraine without aura. Additionally, the study shows that the likelihood of experiencing migraine with aura is 1.4 times higher for those with a family history of migraines without aura.

Furthermore, research shows that if a first-degree relative suffers from migraines with aura, the likelihood of experiencing migraine with aura increases by four times. However, there is no increased risk of developing migraine without aura in this scenario.


Migraine Environmental Factors

Environmental factors are well known to contribute to migraine symptoms. For example, an identical twin study showed that migraine without aura heritability is approximately 60%, and 40% can be attributed to environmental factors. Meaning that if a first-degree family member gets migraines, and their child lives a high-stress level life, lacks quality sleep, and has poor eating and drinking habits, they may be at high risk of getting migraines. 


Hormonal Migraine

Hormonal migraine is another factor to consider when discussing the hereditary nature of migraine. For instance, many women experience migraines more often during their menstrual cycle due to a drop in oestrogen, affecting headache-related chemicals in the brain.

Furthermore, the hormonal changes during menopause have been linked to fewer migraines in some women. Again meaning, if a first-degree family member suffering from migraine has a female child, they may have a higher migraine risk due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.

In summary, if one of your immediate family members experiences migraines with aura, you have a fourfold higher chance of migraines with aura. Therefore, it is essential to consider not only genetic factors but also environmental and hormonal influences when assessing your susceptibility to migraines. These factors can collectively contribute to an increased likelihood of experiencing migraines.

Abdominal Migraine

Abdominal migraine is a less common and poorly understood condition. Typically identified in children, its primary symptoms include recurring episodes of moderate to severe abdominal pain lasting anywhere from 1 to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may include feelings of nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and a visibly pale complexion. 

Children afflicted with abdominal migraine frequently possess a hereditary or personal history of migraines, often experience relief with migraine-specific medications, and share comparable triggers and symptoms. Additionally, evidence indicates that as children with abdominal migraine grow older, their condition often becomes typical migraine headaches.

At BHMC, we take your concerns and health seriously. We listen to how your pain impacts you or your child, and dedicate our time, expertise and resources to confirming the best treatment plan moving forward. 

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