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Vaping, Skipping Breakfast Ups Headache Risk for Teens
  • Posted March 1, 2024

Vaping, Skipping Breakfast Ups Headache Risk for Teens

Vaping and skipped meals appear to be the main causes of frequent headaches among teens, a new study says.

Teens who ate breakfast and dinner with their family had a lower risk of frequent headaches than those who regularly missed meals, researchers report Feb. 28 in the journal Neurology.

Meanwhile, vaping also was associated with frequent headaches for those 12 to 17, researchers said.

Frequent headaches are defined as those occurring more than once a week.

"It is not uncommon for children and teens to have headaches, and while medications are used to stop and sometimes prevent headaches, lifestyle changes may also offer an effective route to relief by preventing headaches from happening and improving quality of life,"said researcher Dr. Serena Orr, an assistant professor of pediatrics with the University of Calgary in Canada.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on nearly 5 million children and teens enrolled in a large Canadian health survey.

About 6% of participants had headaches more than once a week, researchers found.

The children were asked about lifestyle factors that could affect their risk of headache, including screen time, sleep hours, meals and substance use.

For meals, the kids were asked how often they ate breakfast and dinner with their family, for a total of 14 possible meals.

Kids who experienced frequent headaches averaged nine such meals a week with their family, compared to an average 12 meals for those who had one or no headaches each week, results show.

Overall, regular meals reduced risk of frequent headaches by 8%, researchers report.

Researchers also found that teens who use e-cigarettes daily have twice the odds of frequent headaches than those who've never vaped.

No links were found between frequent headaches and sleep, screen time, and other substance use, results show.

However, children with anxiety and mood disorders had double the risk of frequent headaches.

"We assessed anxiety and mood disorders because they have been linked to headaches and may impact lifestyle behaviors,"Orr said in a journal news release. "It is possible regular family meals may lead to greater connectedness and communication within the family, and better mental health outcomes, which in turn may impact headache frequency."

These findings could help family doctors identify lifestyle changes that will help kids deal with frequent headaches, Orr said.

More information

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has more about headaches in children.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Feb. 28, 2024

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