New Study Reveals Why Migraines During Pregnancy Are Risky

Migraines are fairly common for pregnant women to experience but they may be an issue for concern. According to US News, a new study suggests that women who experience migraines during pregnancy may have a higher risk of experiencing preeclampsia and other complications before birth. "Roughly 20% of women of childbearing age experience migraine, but the impact of migraine on pregnancy outcomes has not been well understood," said study author Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

In the study, women with migraine were 17% more likely to experience a preterm baby, 28% more likely to have gestational high blood pressure, and 40% more likely to experience preeclampsia than women without migraine. The researchers believe that migraines do not cause these increased health risks. Rather, someone who experiences frequent migraines is also at risk of other health conditions that can be harmful during pregnancy. "While the risks of these complications are still quite low overall, women with a history of migraine should be aware of and consult with their doctor on potential pregnancy risks," said Purdue-Smithe.

What are migraines?

Migraines and headaches are often referred to interchangeably, but these two health conditions are very different. Headaches are usually infrequent and pain levels can vary significantly. Migraines, on the other hand, are consistent and often cause severe pain (via Mayo Clinic). Migraines can go through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Some people go through all four stages with every episode and other people only go through one or two.

The prodrome stage is the preliminary stage that occurs a day or two before the migraine. During this stage you may experience mood changes, food cravings, and frequent yawning. The aura stage can happen before or during a migraine and involves seeing bright spots or flashes of light, vision loss, or other physical symptoms around the body. The attack stage is when physical pain strikes in the head and can last for 4 to 72 hours if left untreated. The post-drome stage occurs after the worst pain of the migraine and can cause elation, confusion, or drowsiness. If you regularly experience migraines, visit your doctor. They can help you find the best treatment to manage your symptoms.