There have been a variety of studies linking childhood maltreatment to headaches, including migraine and chronic daily headache.
A report using data from a study which included over 17,000 adult members of the Kaiser Health Plan in San Diego, CA was discussed in the August 2010 periodical, Headache. This study assesses the relationship of adverse childhood experiences to frequent headaches in an HMO population.
The researchers assessed 8 adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including experiencing abuse (emotional, physical, sexual), witnessing domestic violence, growing up with mental illness in the home, having household members who were incarcerated or abusing drugs, and experiencing parental separation or divorce. The study used a number of ACES as a measure of cumulative childhood stress and hypothesized a relationship of the score to the prevalence and risk of frequent headaches.
The results showed that each ACE was associated with frequent headaches, particularly emotional abuse. These findings indicate there is a need for future studies to examine general populations with headache. A better understanding of the link between ACEs and migraine may lead to new knowledge regarding pathophysiology and enhanced additional therapies for headache patients.