High humidity, traffic pollution tied to increased migraine risk

  • Li W & al.
  • Environ Int
  • 22 Aug 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Adults with a history of episodic migraine have an increased risk for headache onset in the presence of higher relative humidity in warmer months, and higher levels of traffic-related gaseous pollutants in colder months.

Why this matters

  • Prior studies on the association between weather and ambient air pollution and migraine onset have yielded conflicting results.

Study design

  • Prospective study on 98 patients with episodic migraine (mean age, 35 years; follow-up, 4406 days; total episodes, 870).
  • Weather factors noted between March 2016 and October 2017 in the greater Boston area:
    • Daily mean temperature: 56.9°F (13.8°C).
    • Daily mean fine particulate matter: 7.3 μg/m3.
    • Relative humidity: 67.3%.
  • Funding: Harvard Catalyst; others.

Key results

  • Increased risk for the onset of migraine headache was noted with higher relative humidity in the warm season (April-September).
  • Among air pollutants, ozone was positively associated with the likelihood for the onset of migraine headache:
    • OR, 1.17 (95% CI, 1.002-1.36) with a 14 ppb higher 1-day moving average of daily maximum 8-hour ozone.
  • In the cold season, there were weak positive associations between other traffic pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide) and risks for the onset of migraine headache.  

Limitations

  • Limited generalisability of the findings.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm

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