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More Kids and Teens Heading to ER With Headaches

FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2016 -- A growing number of American children with headaches are being seen at pediatric emergency departments and admitted to the hospital, researchers report.

The researchers at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh looked at headache-related visits made to their ER between 2007 and 2014. The children were all between 4 and 20 years old.

Headache visits doubled from 2 percent to more than 4 percent of all visits, the researchers said.

Hospital admission rates for children with a headache increased from 10 percent to 24 percent, the study found. Girls were more likely to be admitted than boys.

The study was scheduled to be presented Friday at the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) annual meeting, in San Francisco.

The study results suggest that headaches are a growing burden on patients and the health care system.

"It is not uncommon to see patients and parents that have missed significant amounts of school or work because of chronic headaches," the study authors noted.

But, one big question remains. Why are headache-related ER visits and hospital admissions on the rise?

"Our findings show a worrisome trend, and we need to figure out why so many children are ending up in hospitals with headaches," study co-author Dr. Regina Toto, pediatric chief resident at the hospital, said in an AAP news release.

Findings presented at medical meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on headache.

Posted: October 2016


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