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Migraine alert on hidden risks

MIGRAINE should be a concern of teachers and school medical staff, a recent international conference in Barcelona was told by John Young, principal psychologist for Edinburgh.

"Migraine is an issue for school doctors who should see children are properly diagnosed, and then advise school staff for the appropriate treatment," Mr Young said.

He told the International Headache Society that among children aged 12-17 rates of susceptibility to migraine vary from 4 per cent to 18 per cent. Whereas in adults the condition affects mainly women, boys are equally prone. School work suffers and anxiety makes things worse.

Migraine is often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Headaches can occur several times a month. The conference heard that a study of Polish adolescents found they took more days off school and had higher levels of anxiety and depression.

A consultant neurologist, Stefan Evers, from Munster in Germany, said:

"Adolescent migraine is an often unrecognised problem that can lead to poor school attendance and may affect performance when pupils do manage to attend."

Mr Young said "teachers should at least offer reassurance and perhaps counselling about the likely effects of the condition. Relaxation programmes would also help."

He also advised study skill programmes for pupils who struggled to catch up on work.

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