Migraine usually affects women more than men. A new study has found that the condition can also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, was led by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. It was reported that migraine diagnosed pre-pregnancy was associated with adverse outcomes during pregnancy, including preterm delivery, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia. The researchers opined that migraine can be a potential clinical marker of increased obstetric risk.
“Preterm delivery and hypertensive disorders are some of the primary drivers of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality,” first author Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School noted, MedicalXpress reported.
“Our findings suggest that a history of migraine warrants consideration as an important risk factor for these complications and could be useful in flagging women who may benefit from enhanced monitoring during pregnancy,” Purdue-Smithe added.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which included 30,555 pregnancies from around 20,000 U.S. nurses to find the relation, if any, between migraine and pregnancy complications.
Here, the data consisted of self-reported physician-diagnosed migraine before pregnancy as migraine with and without aura along with self-reported pregnancy outcomes.
Women are more vulnerable to migraines than their male counterparts. According to the outlet, women are two to three times more likely than men to experience migraine, and the condition is most prevalent among women between the ages of 18 and 44.
Migraine with aura is a small subtype that is manifested in 5.5% of the population. Aura are visual distortions that occur before migraine headache onset.
Following analysis, it was found that pre-pregnancy migraine was linked to a 17 percent higher risk of preterm delivery, a 28 percent higher rate of gestational hypertension, and a 40 percent higher rate of preeclampsia. Moreover, migraine with aura led to a higher risk of preeclampsia than migraine without aura, the study found.
However, migraine did not affect low birth weight and gestational diabetes mellitus, according to the study.
In an interesting observation, researchers noticed that participants with migraine who used aspirin more than twice weekly prior to pregnancy showed a 45 percent lower risk for preterm delivery.
Low-dose aspirin during pregnancy is recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force or individuals at high risk of preeclampsia and those who have more than one moderate risk factor for the pregnancy complication brought on by high blood pressure.
“Our findings of reduced risk of preterm delivery among women with migraine who reported regular aspirin use prior to pregnancy suggest that aspirin may also be beneficial for women with migraine,” Purdue-Smithe said and added, “given the observational nature of our study, and the lack of detailed information on aspirin dosage available in the cohort, clinical trials will be needed to definitively answer this question.”