I Have Migraines — Will My Children?

Mar 12, 2024
I Have Migraines — Will My Children?
Migraines can be debilitating. If you have them, you know. And you may wonder whether your children could suffer from migraines too. Read on to learn more about causal factors in migraines. 

If you get migraine headaches, you’ve probably learned how to manage them. And if you have young children or are thinking about having children, you hope your child won’t ever experience migraine pain. 

Because you have migraines, you know this condition is more than a regular headache: It’s a neurological disorder. Board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Charles Niesen and our team at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, treat children with migraines

Here, Dr. Niesen explains that migraine headaches are often the result of your genetic makeup, but environmental factors are at play also.

Genetics and migraines

Researchers believe that more than half of migraine sufferers get them because of their genetic makeup. This neurological disorder does run in families. So yes, there’s a chance your children may get migraines also. However, it’s not a foregone conclusion. 

Researchers still aren’t clear on the etiology of migraines, but they believe combinations of several genes can cause these severe headaches, often with other debilitating symptoms. However, just because you have the genes doesn’t mean you’ll get migraines. Scientists believe environmental factors play a significant role as well. 

If only one parent suffers from migraines, your child has about a 50% chance of having them. On the other hand, if both parents suffer from migraines (a fairly rare situation) your child has about a 90% chance of having them. 

Environmental factors in migraines

Since you have migraines, you’ve probably figured out environmental triggers for your attacks. A change in the environment can bring on a migraine. Scientists still aren’t sure why the brain reacts to changing stimuli as it does. 

These common environmental factors can trigger a migraine in your child:

Foods and additives 

Researchers note that MSG in food, the sweetener aspartame, and red and yellow food dye are frequent triggers of pediatric migraines. Some foods such as cheese, meat, and citrus also may stimulate migraines. You can keep a food diary so that you learn which foods may cause a migraine in your child. 


Rapid changes in barometric pressure, storms, and temperature changes and extremes can bring on a migraine. 


About 70% of people with migraines report stress as a factor. Children can be stressed about school, their friendships and social life, or family life and disruptions in parenting. 

Mitigating your child’s migraines 

Don’t let a chance of having migraines keep you from becoming a parent. You’ll be able to identify lifestyle factors that can trigger them. Then you can modify your child’s environment to lessen the chance or severity of a migraine if your child does have them. 

If your child experiences migraines, Dr. Niesen can provide medication and lifestyle recommendations to help reduce their frequency and intensity. Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today if your child deals with migraines.