Adverse Childhood Experiences and Frequent Headache by Adolescent Self-Report


Anto, Marissa; Jaffee, Sara; Tietjen, Gretchen; Mendizibal, Adys; & Szperka, Christina (2021). Adverse Childhood Experiences and Frequent Headache by Adolescent Self-Report. Pediatric Neurology.


Objective The association between exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and increased headache, including migraine, in adults has been well characterized. Childhood adversity and its effect on headache in children have not been as robustly investigated. This study examines the relationship of self-reported ACEs to frequent headache in an adolescent cohort. Design We performed a retrospective cohort study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult (Add) Health Wave I (n = 20,745) to examine self-reported ACE exposures and their relationship to frequent (at least weekly) headache. Results The study population was comprised of 20,745 participants; 50.6% male and 49.4% female. The mean age of respondents was 15.9 years (range 12-21 years, SE: 0.12 years) and 65.6% of participants identified their race as White. Frequent headache was reported in 29.3% of respondents. 45% of respondents reported one or more ACE exposures. For each increase in cumulative ACE score, odds of frequent headache increased by 1.22 (95% confidence interval 1.15-1.30). The ACEs that individually showed an association with frequent headache after adjusting for demographic factors were lack of maternal warmth (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.12-1.74, p=.002), lack of paternal warmth (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.20-1.81, p <0.001), paternal alcoholism (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.05-1.40, p=0.007), suicide attempt of family member (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.22-1.87, p <.001), and living in an unsafe neighborhood (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.06-1.39, p = .004). Conclusions Several ACE exposures were associated with frequent headache in adolescents. An increase in cumulative ACE exposure increased odds of having frequent headache.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Pediatric Neurology


Anto, Marissa
Jaffee, Sara
Tietjen, Gretchen
Mendizibal, Adys
Szperka, Christina

Year Published




Reference ID