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    Adolescent Migraines Linked To School Performance And GPAs

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    Suffering from migraine headaches in adolescence is associated with lower grades at high school and decreases the likelihood of graduating from high school and the likelihood of attending college, the U.S researchers said.

    According to Daniel Rees, an economics professor at the University of Colorado in Denver, and Joseph Sabia, a professor of public policy at Washington's American University's School of Public Affairs, sufferers of migraine headaches have trouble attending school and have even more trouble concentrating on the days when they are able to make it to school.

    For their study purposes, professors Rees and Sabia analyzed the migraine experiences and high school grades of 214 siblings from more than 100 families. Parental reports identified siblings who were raised in the same family with different migraine experiences. Data on high school completion and information on college attendance was gathered from 280 siblings belonging to 137 families. The siblings were interviewed for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

    The authors discovered that adolescents who suffered migraine headaches were associated with a 5 per cent reduction in high school performance and grade point average (GPA), as well as with a 5 per cent decrease in the likelihood of graduating from high school, and a 15 per cent reduction in the likelihood of attending college.

    By comparing the educational achievements of siblings, the study was able to account for the influence of a variety of hard-to-measure factors, including the quality of the home environment. The experts said that between 30 to 40 per cent of the reductions in high school performance could be explained by missing days from school, difficulty concentrating and paying attention in the classroom, and problems with homework. The study found that headaches that were not related to migraines, were not associated with decrease in academic performance and grades. "By focusing on differences between siblings, we can rule out the possibility that family-level factors such as socioeconomic status are driving the relationship between migraine headache and academic performance," said Professor Rees.

    The study appears to be the first to analyze the effect of suffering from migraine headaches in adolescence on future academic performance. Researchers said that it is a known fact that migraine headaches can profoundly impact the life quality. And according to the new findings, there is now an evidence that they are an important obstacle to academic success in the long rune, said Prof. Sabia, whose research focuses on health economics.

    The findings were presented on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, at the 84th Annual Conference of the Western Economic Association International in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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