Background: Migraine and tension-type headache are primary headache disorders that occur during pregnancy. Most women with migraine improve during pregnancy. Some women have their first attack during pregnancy. Migraine can recur postpartum; it can also begin at that time. Women who have had menstrual migraine and migraine onset at menarche tend to experience no migraine during pregnancy. Not all migraines improve during pregnancy, however. Some women experience migraine for the first time during pregnancy.
Etiology: Headaches caused by cerebral arteriovenous malformations often present as migraine with aura. Cerebral venous thrombosis (common during pregnancy and the puerperium) may manifest with migraine-like visual disturbance and headache.
Treatment: Nondrug therapies (relaxation, sleep, massage, ice packs, biofeedback) should be tried first to treat migraine in women who are pregnant. For treatment of acute migraine attacks 1000 mg of paracetamol (acetaminophen) preferably as a suppository is considered the first choice drug treatment.
Discussion: Migraine has also been recently postulated as one of the major risk factors for stroke during pregnancy and the puerperium. There is thus an urgent need for prospective studies of large numbers of pregnant women to determine the real existence and extent of the risks posed by migraine during pregnancy.
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