• Sharon Starkey

Migraines and Autism: An Unexplored Connection

Migraine is the most predominant primary headache and represents the most prevalent neurological disease, the third most prevalent illness in the world, the third cause of disability in under 50s and it affects about 1 billion people worldwide.


According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition beta (ICHD-3 beta), people suffering from migraine experience attacks lasting 4–72 h which are typically unilateral, pulsating, with a moderate or severe intensity, aggravated by physical activity and associated with nausea, vomiting and/or photophobia and phonophobia. In some patients, head pain is preceded by visual, sensory or other central nervous system symptoms, this presentation is known as aura.


Both people with autism and people with migraines share an atypical sensory processing. Hyper- and hyposensory reactivity can combine differently across individuals with ASD, it can range from mild to severe forms, it can be visible early in development and persist in adulthood. Sensory processing abnormalities seem to have a double impairment both in the registration and modulation of sensory stimuli


Even if autism and migraine are two common neurological conditions, only a few studies investigate their comorbidity. These studies, despite a small sample of patients with autism, indicate a high rate of migrainous symptomatology. Individuals with autism frequently have an altered pain sensitivity that could distort their perception of headaches. Moreover, the social dimension of pain could be impaired in people with autism with unforeseeable consequences in reports of pain.


Regarding the comorbidity between autism and migraines, it seems clear that further epidemiological studies are needed to take into account the true scale of this poorly explored association.mmation; abnormal findings especially in the cortical minicolumn organization and in the dysfunctional gut–brain axis; shared susceptibility genes.

Regarding the comorbidity between autism and migraine, it seems clear that further epidemiological studies are needed to take into account the true scale of this poorly explored association.


For the complete paper see: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/9/615/htm (Brain Sci. 2020, 10(9), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10090615)

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