Headache in children in Dutch general practice

J C van der Wouden, P van der Pas, M A Bruijnzeels, J A Brienen, L W van Suijlekom-Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AIM: To describe the occurrence of headache in general practice, the diagnoses made in general practice, and the management.

METHOD: Data from the Dutch national survey of morbidity and interventions in general practice were used. The practice population (103 practices) comprised 63,753 children aged 0-14 years.

RESULTS: In 634 episodes, headache was a reason for encounter. The incidence of headache presented to the general practitioner was 40.2 per 1000 person years. More than half of the episodes were related to an infectious disease, among which upper respiratory tract infections predominated. The incidence rate of the diagnosis idiopathic headache was 7.3 episodes per 1000 person years. The incidence increased with age and was higher in girls than in boys. In only 12% of cases of idiopathic headache were special investigations carried out, mostly blood examinations. Medication was prescribed in 27% of all episodes of idiopathic headache. In the absence of an infectious disease, many headache episodes were associated with psychosocial problems. Family problems and school problems were mentioned most often.

CONCLUSION: Headache in children as reason for encounter is a common problem in general practice, often associated with an infectious disease. When confronted with a child with idiopathic headache, the general practitioner should be aware of a possible psychosocial component.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-50
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Headache/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Social Adjustment

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