Botox injections are typically thought of as beauty enhancers for adult men and women, but a small study in California, suggests that the injections may also help children find relief from migraines.
The new findings are based on testing among just nine children, aged 8 to 17. Currently, Botox is only approved as an adult migraine treatment and research has shown that for some people, it’s been effective.
The new study may provide hope for a young migraine sufferer looking for an alternative treatment, since the one approved preventative medication, topiramate, is only available to adolescent patients.
"When children and teens have migraine pain, it can severely affect their lives and ability to function," said study author Dr. Shalini Shah, chief of the division of pain medicine at the University of California, Irvine,
"They miss school, their grades suffer and they are left behind, often unable to reach their full potential," she added in an American Society of Anesthesiologists' news release. "Clearly, there is a need for an alternative treatment for those who haven't found relief.”
After the treatments with Botox, Shah noted, "we saw improvement in functional aspects in all of the children and teens. In fact, one patient was hospitalized monthly for her migraine pain prior to Botox treatment and was expected to be held back in school. After treatment, she only has one or two migraines a year, and is excelling in college."
Researchers said that before treatment, the participating patients experienced migraines between roughly eight and 30 times per month.
The kids and teens were given Botox shots to the front and back of the head and the neck every 12 weeks for five years. Once treated, the study volunteers had migraines between two and 10 times a month.
Researchers said the patients experienced less pain and the duration of the migraine attacks decreased. No severe side effects were reported and another study is already being launched.
Shah recently presented the findings at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Boston. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary if they haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal.