Very few cases of short-lasting headaches have been reported in children and adolescents. The aim of this study is to describe a group of patients in the pediatric age group with short attacks of head pain and to demonstrate that they are not easily classified according to existing criteria for adults. We describe 23 subjects in retrospect, 12 males and 11 females, with brief attacks of headache, stabbing in nature, self-limited, lasting from a few seconds to 15 min. This sample was taken from a total population of 548 children and adolescents referred to our Pediatric Headache Unit during the years 1995-1999. Mean age at onset of symptomatology was 9 years. The localization of the headache was bilateral in 60% of the patients and unilateral in 40%. The pain was either unifocal at the orbit or temple (60%) or multifocal (40%). In 24% of the children, the interictal awake EEG showed infrequent posterior slow-waves. In 12 patients we used paracetamol with a good response. Although these painful episodes shared some aspects with the adult form of idiopathic stabbing headache, they had different durations of attack, and other primary headache syndromes did not accompany them either at the time of presentation or during the following 2 years. Short attacks of headache are present in the pediatric age group and are not easily classified according to the International Headache Society criteria. Their nature and correlation with migraine remains unclear. We propose follow-up of these subjects to obtain a better description of the natural history of these forms of headache in the pediatric age group.
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