Examining the stress response and recovery among children with migraine

Debra Huss, Karen Derefinko, Richard Milich, Farjam Farzam, Robert Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective This study compared physiological differences between children diagnosed with migraine and their healthy peers.MethodPhysiological measures were obtained at baseline, after discussing an emotional stressor, and after a 5-min recovery period in 21 children with pediatric migraine and 32 healthy peers. Comparisons were also made on psychological measures investigating anxiety.ResultsChildren with migraine exhibited a significantly higher pulse rate compared to comparison children at rest, and higher diastolic blood pressure and higher low-frequency/high-frequency ratio after a 5-min recovery from an emotional stressor. Additionally, when anxiety was entered as a covariate, group differences after the 5-min recovery period were no longer significant.ConclusionsResults suggest that relative to comparison children, children with migraine exhibit some physiological elevation at rest, as well as a prolonged physiological recovery period after an emotional stressor. Group differences after the 5-min recovery period suggest that children with migraine experience delayed sympathetic hyperarousal and prolonged sympathovagal imbalance. The treatment implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-715
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • ANS dysfunction
  • Pediatric migraine
  • Recovery
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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