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Healthcare professionals must be aware of rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy
Date:5/22/2014

idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a build up of high pressure inside the skull, a rare condition but more prevalent in obese women of childbearing age. The condition may present for the first time in pregnancy and pre-existing disease tends to worsen in pregnancy. It can be fatal if it is not treated promptly as a medical emergency.

Pregnancy is also a recognised risk factor for cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), the presence of a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses, which drain blood from the brain. Caesarean section, systematic infection, vomiting and anaemia increase the risk and headache is the most frequently (80 90%) occurring symptom in CVT and often the first symptom reported by patients.

The review also discusses imaging and advises that imaging of the brain should never be withheld because a woman is pregnant and women should be reassured that imaging is safe.

Kirsty Revell, Specialist Registrar, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Princess Anne Hospital, Southampton and co-author of the review said:

"Headaches are common in life and in pregnancy. Most headaches are benign, for example migraine or tension headaches, but some headache types can be more serious and an indication that something is seriously wrong.

"It is vital that both GPs and obstetricians are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with these conditions and know when to seek advice from a specialist."

Jason Waugh, TOG Editor-in-chief added:

"Many women experience headaches during pregnancy and the postpartum period and most are managed by women themselves or within primary care.

"Women presenting with headaches in pregnancy and the postnatal period may be at home, on a maternity ward, in an antenatal clinic, at a tertiary referral centre or in an emergency department. All medical staff should be aware of the symptoms, signs and appropriate response to the rarer and more severe causes of headaches that co
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Contact: Nicole Weingartner
sciencenewsroom@wiley.com
201-748-5808
Wiley
Source:Eurekalert

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