Common Migraine Triggers for Kids

Oct 01, 2023
Common Migraine Triggers for Kids
You’re distressed because your child has migraine headaches. These aren’t just regular headaches. Your child gets ill when a migraine occurs. Learn about common triggers for migraines in children.

If your child suffers from migraines, you’re likely searching for answers. It’s hard to see your child become ill from this severe kind of headache. 

Migraines have a genetic component. If you or your partner have migraines, your child may have a 50% chance of having them too. If both you and your partner have them, the risk could increase to 90%. 

While not that common, about 10% of children get migraines. Pediatric neurologist, Dr. Charles Niesen, and our team at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, treat children who experience migraine headaches. Researchers say that migraines are more than a standard-issue headache: They’re a neurological disease. 

What triggers a migraine in children? Migraines are spontaneous events in many children. There may be no warning. On the other hand, scientists have found that there are triggers that may precipitate a migraine in some children. Perhaps if you understand these triggers, you can help your child avoid them. 

Following are some common triggers for pediatric migraines. 

Stress level 

Today’s world can be stressful for parents. Young children may absorb some of that stress even though they don’t understand its origin.

Any major life change such as a divorce, a move, or a change in finances can place tremendous stress on families, with parental stress boomeranging onto your children. Stress can cause sleep disturbances which have also been implicated as migraine triggers. 

Food triggers 

Researchers have found that certain foods can trigger migraines in some children. Common foods associated with migraines include: 

  • Cheese
  • Citrus 
  • Chocolate
  • Yogurt
  • Red and yellow food dye
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Processed meats 
  • Aspartame
  • Fried foods
  • Ice cream
  • Fatty foods

You might want to try an elimination diet to see if a food your child eats may be associated with their migraines. Eliminate only one food at a time and keep a diary. 

Sudden changes in the weather

Sudden barometric pressure changes may precipitate migraines in your child. Extremely humid or dry air and extreme heat or cold may also be triggers. 

Hormonal changes

Researchers don’t fully understand the role of hormones in pediatric migraines, but teen girls are at risk of getting migraines when they start menstruating. This is one of the reasons more women than men experience migraines. 


Has your child had a concussion? Up to 90% of children who have had a concussion have post-traumatic headaches and most of them have migraine symptoms. 

Dr. Niesen assesses your child and their environment to help determine whether environmental factors are triggers for their migraines. We work with you to help you discover and remediate any issues in your child’s life that may make them more susceptible to these severe headaches. Dr. Niesen can prescribe medications to ease your child’s pain.

Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today if your child suffers from migraine headaches.