jpeg If a pregnant woman with high blood pressure and no history of headaches suddenly develops a headache that worsens, she could be at risk of serious complications, according to a study that appeared in Neurology. In particular, the researchers said the headache could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that can place both mother and baby at risk.

Pregnancy can take its toll on a woman’s body, but reports show that migraine pain before childbirth is unlikely. According to NHF statistics, approximately 80% of women who have migraine stop having migraine attacks from the end of the third month of pregnancy until delivery because of hormonal stability. Though 20% of women still suffer from migraine pain during pregnancy, medication use during this time is discouraged due to potential harm to the fetus. Women typically experience migraine during the first trimester of pregnancy, when the fetus is most susceptible to birth defects that may be caused by medications.  All headache medication should be avoided, but if it is absolutely necessary, patients should consult their healthcare providers.

By Susan Rubin, M.D. Director of the Women’s Neurology Center at Glenbrook Hospital, Glenview, Illinois THE CASE Thirty-six year old Julia wants to have a child, but she has one problem. She has a long history of chronic daily headaches and migraines that she is barely able to control with multiple preventive and abortive medications—medications she worries might not be safe for a developing fetus. She wonders which medications are safe during pregnancy and how she can wean off the ones that aren’t. She also wonders if there are treatments she can use for headache control while she tries to get pregnant and during pregnancy.