Why Some Doctors Are Advocating Botox For Kids

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Unwanted wrinkles, overactive sweat glands, TMJ-related pain—it seems like botulinum toxin, aka Botox Cosmetic, can already treat just about anything. Now, a new study suggests it can also help alleviate migraines in children and teens.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, presented their findings from a small preliminary study at the annual Anesthesiology 2017 meeting on Monday, where the focus was on children and teens who “don’t respond well to available options” for their migraine relief. The participants, ages 8 to 17, each suffered from chronic migraines (some had been hospitalized due to the pain, and half were homeschooled because of it) and were treated with Botox injections every 12 weeks over a five-year period.

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The results were positive, with drastic improvements seen in migraine frequency, duration and intensity. At the start of the study, the young participants experienced migraines anywhere from eight to 29.5 days out of the month, each migraine lasting from 30 minutes to a full 24 hours. After the treatment period, the frequency of migraines lowered to two to 10 days a month, and lasted from 15 minutes to seven hours. The participants also said the headaches did not feel as painful as they had before.

The FDA approved the use of Botox to treat migraines in adults in 2010, but usage in children has yet to receive approval. To receive treatment, the individual must undergo 31 different injections in select spots around the head and neck. “When it comes to pain management in children, it’s an extrapolation of everything we know in adult literature,” study author Dr. Shalini Shah, chief of pain medicine and director of pain services at UC Irvine Health, tells TIME. “[Botox for migraines] is phenomenal in terms of success in adults. It should be extrapolated in children.”

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