A population based study at the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted County, Minnesota identified 629 residents with newly diagnosed migraine headache between 1979 and 1981. The age adjusted incidence was 137/100,000 person-years for males and 294/100,000 person-years for females. The highest incidence in females was at 20-24 years (689/100,000), and in males 10-14 years (246/100,000). The incidence increased 34% in women and 100% in men from 1979 to 1981. The majority of the cohort (81%) had migraine with aura or migraine without aura. The onset was associated with head trauma in 4% of male and 3% of female patients; it was associated with a particular food or drink in 3% of females and 7% of males. In 10% of females the migraine attacks were related to menstruation, 2% had headaches associated with pregnancy, and 11% of females stated that oral contraceptives increased or initiated their migraine attacks. A childhood onset of migraine was found in 25% of males and in 12% of females affected. Of the 629 newly diagnosed patients in the study, 100 (15%) were less than 15 years of age. [1]

COMMENT. Bille in a 14 year longitudinal study of over 9000 school children found 11% (71 per 100,000 per year) to have developed migraine, an incidence in children far below that reported in the present study. [2]

In a cross sectional epidemiological survey of a general population reported from Glostrup Hospital, Denmark, the prevalence of migraine without aura (common migraine) in the previous year was 6% and of migraine with aura (classic migraine) 4%. The prevalence of migraine without aura was significantly higher among women than among men, with a male-female ratio of 1:5. Sixty-three percent had episodic tension-type headache and 3% chronic tension-type headache. Tension-type headache in migraineurs was not significantly more prevalent than in non-migraineurs. The results support the view that migraine and tension-type headache are distinct entities. [3]

An interesting article by a PNB subscriber, Dr. E.B. Russo, Western Montana Clinic, Missoula, MT [4], reviews the botanical treatments used for headache by 5 Indian tribes of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Several tribal peoples have developed a varied pharmacopoeia which includes many agents taken internally for headache treatment, a possible source for new anti-migraine drugs.