Cluster headache-like disorder in childhood

Authors: S McNabb, W Whitehouse
Source: BMJ, 17 August 1999


This paper reviews the diagnostic features of cluster headache-like disorder and describes its presentation in childhood. Case note summaries of patients with this condition are presented in the context of a brief summary of the literature. Four patients (two girls; aged 12 to 15 years) with cluster headache-like disorder were seen over a period of four years in the paediatric neurology department of Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Their histories and clinical courses are described. All had a history of “thrashing around” or bizarre behaviour during attacks, which had distracted attention from the headache and seemed to contribute to delay in diagnosis. It appears that cluster headache-like dis-order does occur in childhood but is not common and can be mistaken for other conditions. A history of thrashing around accompanied by headache is very suggestive. Recognition of the symptoms in the general paediatric clinic would allow rapid diagnosis.