According to a study recently published in the Journal of Child Neurology, children who experience migraines with an aura are more likely (than those children who experience migraine without aura) to have at least one thrombotic risk factor.
Thrombotic risk is the risk that the blood will coagulate (clot) too easily and in places where it should not. Often these clots can lead to a painful build-up of pressure.
Thrombotic disorders in children are not common, but when they do occur it is usually in one of two ways. The first way is that a venous thrombosis (clot in a blood vessel) occurs and causes painful swelling of a limb, or venous congestion of the head and neck leading to pain. The second way it can occur is in an abnormal genetic test when the child is screened after another family member is found to have a genetic thrombotic disorder.
The data for this most recent study into migraines and thrombophilia looked at MRI scans for white lesions, and at blood samples which were measured for substances including prothrombin, thrombin, and partial thromboplastin times. The study consisted of 824 children with migraines, 45 of whom showed thrombotic risk factors. Of these 45, 23 presented with white matter lesions and/or motor aura, while the other 22 had indicators of thrombotic risk factors within their blood samples.
Comparison with historical controls showed that an elevated level of lipoprotein was the only significant difference between the thrombophilia group of migraine sufferers and the children who had migraines but did not show thrombotic risk factors. The researchers concluded that “an abnormally high level of lipoprotein was the only thrombotic risk factor significantly more prevalent in the patients with migraine relative to the general paediatric population” and that “MRI white matter lesions in paediatric patients with migraine is not a reliable indication for paediatric thrombophilia”.
The study’s researchers are suggesting that, as there was a significant, positive association between thrombophilia risk and migraine with aura, children who have migraine with aura should be screened for thrombotic risk factors via blood tests. Doing this screening to identify a risk of thrombophilia early on could help to guard against problems later, and also speed up access to treatment if it is needed.