Lack of sleep a headache for moms-to-be

Here’s another reason for pregnant women to get a good night’s sleep. In a study, researchers found a link between too little sleep each night and needing migraine medication during pregnancy.

An estimated 20 percent to 80 percent of women suffer migraines during pregnancy, according to Dr. Katerina Nezvalova-Henriksen, of the University of Oslo, Norway, and colleagues.

“Many migraineurs may experience an exacerbation of their symptoms at the beginning of the first trimester,” they note in the December issue of the headache journal, Cephalalgia.

Consequently, these women may need to take anti-migraine medications early in pregnancy, “which also corresponds to the most vulnerable period of fetal development.”

To narrow down which women were likely to need migraine medications during pregnancy, the researchers analyzed data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study - an observational study of 60,435 pregnant women recruited between 1999 and 2006 and conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

After adjusting for a variety of factors, pregnant women who reported getting less than 5 hours of shuteye each night were 50 percent more likely to use anti-migraine drugs than women who slept for longer each night.

Overall, 3840 (roughly 6 percent) women reported having a migraine during the first 5 months of pregnancy. Of these, 2525 (about 73 percent) reported using migraine medications during pregnancy, the researchers report.

The most common migraine agents used included non-narcotic analgesics (54 percent) and so-called triptans (25 percent). Triptan migraine drugs include Imitrex, Amerge, Axert, Frova, Maxalt, Relpax and Zomig.

SOURCE: Cephalalgia, December 2009.

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