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 study was released online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development paid for the research.
'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.