, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 217–224 | Cite as

Familial risks for migraine and other headaches among siblings based on hospitalizations in Sweden

  • Kari Hemminki
  • Xinjun Li
  • Sven-Erik Johansson
  • Kristina Sundquist
  • Jan Sundquist
Original Article


Migraine and other headaches are common disabling conditions, reducing the quality of life in the affected individuals. The unambiguous definition of familial risk for subtypes of migraine and other headaches will advance the search for the heritable causes of these conditions and their underlying mechanisms. We aim at defining familial risks for siblings to be hospitalized because of migraine or other headaches. An ad hoc migraine database was constructed by linking the Multigeneration Register on 0- to 69-year-old siblings to the Hospital Discharge Register for data on migraines of all hospitalized patients in Sweden from years 1987 to 2001. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for affected sibling pairs by comparison with those whose siblings had no migraine. Among a total of 14,123 hospitalized patients, 205 affected siblings were identified, with a familial SIR of 2.84. SIRs for migraine with and without aura were 3.08 and 2.67, respectively. The highest familial risk of 3.71 was noted for unspecified migraine. The risk tended to be higher for concordant (both siblings sharing the migraine subtype, ranging from 4.0 to 6.0) than discordant subtypes, but even many discordant SIRs were significant. The SIR for spouse correlation was 1.14 for husbands and 1.22 for wives, far from being significant. All subtypes of hospitalized migraines and other headaches show an increased familial risk, at least in specific age groups. The different subtypes appear to share susceptibility, which may imply common disease mechanisms.


Sibling risks Heritability Familial aggregation National database 



The registers used in the present study are maintained at Statistics Sweden and the National Board of Health and Welfare. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01-H271084-1), the Swedish Research Council (grant K2001-27X-11651-06C), and the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant 2001-2373).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kari Hemminki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xinjun Li
    • 3
  • Sven-Erik Johansson
    • 3
  • Kristina Sundquist
    • 3
  • Jan Sundquist
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Molecular Genetic EpidemiologyGerman Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)HeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biosciences at NovumKarolinska InstituteHuddingeSweden
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine StockholmKarolinska InstituteHuddingeSweden

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