Randomized Controlled Trials of Headache Treatments in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review

Academic Article


  • Objective ?Headaches affect 88% of reproductive-aged women. Yet data are limited addressing treatment of headache in pregnancy. While many women experience improvement in pregnancy, primary and secondary headaches can develop. Consequently, pregnancy is a time when headache diagnosis can influence maternal and fetal interventions. This study was aimed to summarize existing randomized control trials (RCTs) addressing headache treatment in pregnancy. Study Design ?We searched PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and SCOPUS from January 1, 1970 through June 31, 2019. Studies were eligible if they were English-language RCTs addressing treatment of headache in pregnancy. Conference abstracts and studies investigating postpartum headache were excluded. Three authors reviewed English-language RCTs addressing treatment of antepartum headache. To be included, all authors agreed each article to meet the following criteria: predefined control group, participants underwent randomization, and treatment of headache occurred in the antepartum period. If inclusion criteria were met no exclusions were made. Our systematic review registration number was CRD42019135874. Results ?A total of 193 studies were reviewed. Of the three that met inclusion criteria all were small, with follow-up designed to measure pain reduction and showed statistical significance. Conclusion ?Our systematic review of RCTs evaluating treatment of headache in pregnancy revealed only three studies. This paucity of data limits treatment, puts women at risk for worsening headache disorders, and delays diagnosis placing both the mother and fetus at risk for complications.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bushman ET; Cozzi G; Sinkey RG; Smith CH; Varner MW; Digre K
  • Start Page

  • E102
  • End Page

  • E108
  • Volume

  • 38