The latest migraine Topamax study was published in Pediatrics this month. It was a study of migraine patients age 12-17.
The children and teen crowd have had far fewer migraine studies done. Last year we talked about Topamax for children; this study focused on the older subset – adolescents. Here’s what they found:
As you can see, there was a significant difference. In more practical terms, those taking Topamax went from 4.3 attacks per month to 1.3, and had fewer days with migraine. (Note, however, that even those on a placebo saw a significant reduction in attacks, so the numbers aren’t quite as good as they look) The numbers on the bottom of the chart show percentages.
The researchers said that topiramate was well tolerated. However, the fact of the matter is that almost 3/4 of the patients experienced side effects. The common ones were upper respiratory tract infection, itchy or tingling skin, and dizziness.
There should be some concern that, in the rush to make Topamax an "approved" migraine drug around the world, we start thinking it’s the best thing to try. The fact remains that topiramate is a powerful drug which commonly has side effects. It is hoped that Topamax will not be the first thing your doctor recommends.
This is especially important in children. As was pointed out in the Italian review in 2008, we should be especially concerned about the impact these side effects will have on children and teens. Other common side effects in children are weight loss, anorexia, trouble concentrating, and tiredness.
Topamax may prove to help adolescents with migraine. However, the side effects may prompt many to look at other options.