The global incidence of migraine has increased since 1990 and there has been a gradual shift in migraine incidence from teens to those who are middle-aged. These are among study findings published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

To analyze trends in the incidence of migraine from 1990 to 2019, Chinese researchers reviewed data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2019 study. The researchers used an age-period-cohort model to estimate net and local drifts, the overall annual percentage change in migraine incidence, the annual percentage change in each age group, longitudinal age curves/the expected longitudinal age-specific rate, and relative risk by period for each cohort.

The researchers found that the global incidence of migraine in 2019 was 87.6 million (95% uncertainty interval, 76.6 to 98.7), which represents a 40.1% increase from the 1990 incidence. The greatest incidence was found in India, China, the US, and Indonesia, which together accounted for 43.6% of the global incidence of migraine.

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The incidence was greater in women than in men, and the highest incidence rate was found in those 10 to 14 years of age. A gradual shift in the distribution of incidence from teens to middle-aged patients was noted. Results of the age-period-cohort analysis revealed that the relative risk increased over time in regions that ranked high on the socio-demographic index (SDI) but remained stable for regions that ranked low on the SDI.

The investigators attributed the increased incidence of migraine since 1990 to a rapid increase in the population and noted that the incidence of migraine “may continue to increase.” Stress related to social situations (employment, education, marriage), lifestyle (smoking, physical activity, obesity), and environmental factors (eg, air pollution) increase the risk for migraines, the researchers added.

Study limitations include a paucity of data from undeveloped countries; the inability to conduct a more granular analysis to capture sub-national differences; and uncertain quality control and lack of standardization for the data used.

“Unfavorable period and cohort effects reveal that migraine is neglected and that there are currently large gaps in the management of migraine in many countries of the world,” the researchers concluded. “The scope of healthcare to improve the progression of migraine attacks can be extended to both sexes and all age groups, with particular attention to vulnerable populations, including young and middle-aged individuals and females.”


Fan L, Wu Y, Wei J, et al. Global, regional, and national time trends in incidence for migraine, from 1990 to 2019: an age-period-cohort analysis for the GBD 2019J Headache Pain. 2023;24:79-89. doi:10.1186/s10194-023-01619-9

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor