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Pediatr Neurol. 2003 Jan;28(1):9-15.
- Division of Neurology, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.
Diet can play an important role in the precipitation of headaches in children and adolescents with migraine. The diet factor in pediatric migraine is frequently neglected in favor of preventive drug therapy. The list of foods, beverages, and additives that trigger migraine includes cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, hot dogs, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, fatty foods, ice cream, caffeine withdrawal, and alcoholic drinks, especially red wine and beer. Underage drinking is a significant potential cause of recurrent headache in today’s adolescent patients. Tyramine, phenylethylamine, histamine, nitrites, and sulfites are involved in the mechanism of food intolerance headache. Immunoglobulin E-mediated food allergy is an infrequent cause. Dietary triggers affect phases of the migraine process by influencing release of serotonin and norepinephrine, causing vasoconstriction or vasodilatation, or by direct stimulation of trigeminal ganglia, brainstem, and cortical neuronal pathways. Treatment begins with a headache and diet diary and the selective avoidance of foods presumed to trigger attacks. A universal migraine diet with simultaneous elimination of all potential food triggers is generally not advised in practice. A well-balanced diet is encouraged, with avoidance of fasting or skipped meals. Long-term prophylactic drug therapy is appropriate only after exclusion of headache-precipitating trigger factors, including dietary factors.