Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Healthcare professionals must be aware of rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy

Date:
May 23, 2014
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Most headaches in pregnancy and the postnatal period are benign, but healthcare professionals must be alert to the rarer and more severe causes of headaches, suggests a new review. There are 85 different types of headache. Approximately 90% of headaches in pregnancy are migraine or tension-type headaches. However, pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of certain secondary headaches, a headache caused by an underlying health condition, states the review.

Most headaches in pregnancy and the postnatal period are benign, but healthcare professionals must be alert to the rarer and more severe causes of headaches, suggests a new review published today (23 May) in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG).

The review looks at common causes for headaches during pregnancy and the postnatal period, possible conditions that may be associated with headaches and how healthcare professionals should manage the care of the woman appropriately.

There are 85 different types of headache. Approximately 90% of headaches in pregnancy are migraine or tension-type headaches. However, pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of certain secondary headaches, a headache caused by an underlying health condition, states the review.

The review states that most headaches in pregnancy are benign but in some cases can be more serious. According to the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom 2006 -- 2008 report[i], neurological conditions were the third most common cause of death, considering both direct and indirect causes. The authors of the review therefore emphasize the need for all medical staff to be well trained to take a full history and examination, make a provisional differential diagnosis and know when to seek neurological expertise.

Migraine is a common form of headache; the condition is more common in women, with the highest prevalence rates during the childbearing years. The review states that pregnancy leads to a reduction in the frequency and severity of attacks of migraines without aura, also known as a common migraine. However, women who do experience migraines have a more than two-fold increased risk of pre-eclampsia than those who do not. Women therefore need to be aware to consult a healthcare professional if their headache is different from their usual migraine, highlights the review.

Another condition associated with a headache in pregnancy is idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a build up of high pressure inside the skull, a rare condition but more prevalent in obese women of childbearing age. The condition may present for the first time in pregnancy and pre-existing disease tends to worsen in pregnancy. It can be fatal if it is not treated promptly as a medical emergency.

Pregnancy is also a recognized risk factor for cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), the presence of a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses, which drain blood from the brain. Caesarean section, systematic infection, vomiting and anemia increase the risk and headache is the most frequently (80 -- 90%) occurring symptom in CVT and often the first symptom reported by patients.

The review also discusses imaging and advises that imaging of the brain should never be withheld because a woman is pregnant and women should be reassured that imaging is safe.

Kirsty Revell, Specialist Registrar, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton and co-author of the review said: "Headaches are common in life and in pregnancy. Most headaches are benign, for example migraine or tension headaches, but some headache types can be more serious and an indication that something is seriously wrong.

"It is vital that both GPs and obstetricians are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with these conditions and know when to seek advice from a specialist."

Jason Waugh, TOG Editor-in-chief added: "Many women experience headaches during pregnancy and the postpartum period and most are managed by women themselves or within primary care.

"Women presenting with headaches in pregnancy and the postnatal period may be at home, on a maternity ward, in an antenatal clinic, at a tertiary referral centre or in an emergency department. All medical staff should be aware of the symptoms, signs and appropriate response to the rarer and more severe causes of headaches that continue to cause avoidable morbidity and mortality."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kirsty Revell, Paul Morrish. Headaches in pregnancy. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/tog.12101

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Healthcare professionals must be aware of rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082930.htm>.
Wiley. (2014, May 23). Healthcare professionals must be aware of rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082930.htm
Wiley. "Healthcare professionals must be aware of rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082930.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins