At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, neurologists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY and the Montefiore Headache unit reported that aspartame was a headache precipitating factor in 8.2% of 171 patients evaluated consecutively. Migraineurs were three times as likely to complain that aspartame triggered their headaches than those with muscle contraction or mixed headache types. The authors concluded that aspartame may be an important dietary trigger in a significant proportion of headache sufferers, particularly in migraineurs. (Lipton RB et al. Neurology March 1988:38 (Suppl 1):356). [1]

COMMENT: Although the above study was conducted mainly in adults, the findings would probably apply equally to children with migraine. The role of aspartame in aggravating migraine and other vascular headaches is confirmed by investigators at the Cleveland Clinic and at Emory University School of Medicine and negated by those at Duke University [1]. Drs John Wilson and Edward Brett, pediatric neurologists, and colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London, have convincing evidence that dietary factors, including cow’s milk, egg, wheat cereals, chocolate, orange, and cheese, play an important role in the causation of recurrent headaches in children [2]. Diet drinks containing NutraSweet® should be on the list of items to be avoided by migraineurs until further studies are completed.