Why kids with migraines may not need drugs

Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids' migraines as two commonly used headache medicines - and even had fewer side effects, a study reveals. The findings may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens.

It's the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults' migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant.  The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month's time. Both drugs worked that well — but so did placebo sugar pills.

The results 'really challenge what is typical practice today by headache specialists,' said study author Scott Powers, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital's headache centre.


'The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement,' said Dr. Leon Epstein, neurology chief at Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital of Chicago