Open Access

Prevalences of primary headache symptoms at school-entry: a population-based epidemiological survey of preschool children in Germany

  • G. G. Ostkirchen1Email author,
  • F. Andler2,
  • F. Hammer1,
  • K. D. Pöhler1,
  • E. Snyder-Schendel2,
  • N. K. Werner2,
  • S. Markett1,
  • U. Horacek3,
  • K. H. Jöckel2 and
  • H. C. Diener1
The Journal of Headache and Pain20067:325

Received: 25 April 2006

Accepted: 15 July 2006

Published: 25 October 2006


Primary headache and functional abdominal pain prevalences in an unselected populationbased sample of German preschool children and their parents (n=885) were collected in relation to health-related quality of life and sociodemographic variables. The pain symptoms were assessed according to IHS classification (2004) and Rome-II criteria (1999) during the 2004 data census. The participation rate was 62.7%, with an equal gender distribution. The focus of this paper lies on the symptom-oriented point prevalences for primary headaches of preschool children: 3.6% headache, 33.2% abdominal pain, 48.8% headache+abdominal pain and 14.4% without pain. High comorbidities for pain-affected children have been found. Pain intensities differ significantly only for abdominal pain (one-way ANOVA F=3,339, df=4/445, p=0.010*), not for headaches. However, recurrent headaches show a striking ratio in favour of boys (10:1). Children at preschool age have high quality-of-life measures, already influenced negatively by paediatric pain experiences (one-way ANOVA: F=9,193, df=4/546, p=0.000**). Headache and abdominal pain are relevant for children’s everyday life; hence, simultaneous and prospective assessment is an essential issue in public health research.

Key words

PrevalencesPreschool childrenHeadacheAbdominal painSimultaneous symptom recordingQuality of life