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Ice cream headache in students and family history of headache: a cross-sectional epidemiological study


Headache attributed to ingestion of a cold stimulus (ICHD-3 beta 4.5.1) is also known as ice cream headache (ICH). This cross-sectional epidemiological study included 283 students (10–14-year-olds) attending a grammar school in Germany, their parents (n = 401), and 41 teachers. A self-administered questionnaire was used to analyze the prevalence and characteristics of ICH based on the ICHD classification. Additionally, the association between ICH and other headaches was investigated in students and parents. Prevalence of ICH in students was 62 % without gender difference. In adults, only 36 % of females and 22 % of males reported ICH. There was an increased risk for ICH in students when mother (OR 10.7) or father (OR 8.4) had ICH. Other headaches in parents had no influence on the prevalence of ICH in students. However, in the groups of students and parents itself there was a highly significant association between ICH and other headaches (students: OR 2.4, mothers: OR 2.9, fathers: OR 6.8). There was a decreased risk for ICH when parents and students had no headache at all (OR < 0.4). ICH in students clearly shows a familial disposition by both father and mother. There was also an association between ICH and other headaches within the student and adult groups. The absence of headache history seems to be a protective factor for ICH.

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Correspondence to Theresa Mehl.

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Zierz, A.M., Mehl, T., Kraya, T. et al. Ice cream headache in students and family history of headache: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. J Neurol 263, 1106–1110 (2016).

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  • Ice cream headache
  • Cold induced headache
  • Prevalence
  • Students
  • Family history