Migraine pain can be more common in women than men. The throbbing headache is more than just a passing condition, as it is actually a debilitating neurological disease that can entail a number of symptoms including tiredness, nausea, visual disturbances, difficulty speaking and temporary loss of vision.

Many people with migraine experience an "aura" before the onset of a headache, which is an occurrence similar to the flashing of light in the field of vision that impairs visual ability. Unfortunately, the headache that is particularly associated with an aura increases the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction two-fold.

Apart from this, migraine can also cause adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to a team of researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

These researchers conducted a large-scale study to ascertain the link between pre-existing migraines and the likelihood of experiencing gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, preterm delivery and low birth weight during pregnancy.

The findings of their study, published in the journal Neurology, suggest that while migraine is not associated with gestational diabetes or low birth weight, it has links to a 17% higher risk of preterm delivery, a 28% higher risk of gestational hypertension and a 40% higher risk of preeclampsia.

Before arriving at these numbers, the researchers conducted a series of statistical analyses that involved nearly 20,000 women in Norway who gave birth between 2005 and 2017. The researchers later found that women who reported having migraines during pregnancy were more prone to experience pregnancy-related complications such as pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and low birth weight.

In fact, researchers noticed that the likelihood of complications during the women's pregnancy increased as their headaches became more severe. However, those who took aspirin had a significantly reduced risk of experiencing preterm delivery and related complications, especially preeclampsia, as per the study's findings.

Dr. Matthew Robbins, an associate professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York who was not involved in the study, said the findings are likely to provide new avenues for future research into the subject.

"We have already known from large, population-based, epidemiological studies that the relative risk of stroke and overall cardiovascular comorbidity is higher in individuals who have migraine with aura," he said, as reported by Medical News Today. "Now, we know that this risk may extend to complications of pregnancy including a higher rate of pregnancy-specific cardiovascular conditions such as gestational hypertension and preeclampsia."

"The findings of this study suggest that migraine history and, to a lesser extent, migraine phenotype, are clinically useful markers of pregnancy risks," he added.

Dr. Sarah E. Vollbracht, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York who was also not involved in the study, said migraine screening should be included in initial obstetrical assessments considering these findings.

"Given the high prevalence of migraine in women of childbearing age, these findings suggest that migraine screening should be included in initial obstetrical assessments to determine if a woman is at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and women with migraine should be closely followed throughout pregnancy and monitored for the development of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy," she said, according to the outlet.

Woman with headache. Jose Navarro/flickr