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Are migraines hereditary?

Dr. Charisse Litchman

Medically reviewed by Dr. Charisse Litchman, MD, FAHS on August 18, 2020

The heritability of migraines (how likely you are to develop migraines if a family member has them) is quite high, approximately 50% if one of your parents has migraines and over 75% if both of your parents suffer from migraines. Over half of migraine sufferers have a close relative who suffers from migraines as well. Over 40 genes have been found to be linked to migraines. 

If you do have a family history of migraines, you are likely to start having headaches at a younger age than someone who does not have family members with migraines.  Further, with your family history of migraines, you are likely to have headaches more often, you are likely to require medications to stop them more often, and you are more likely to develop aura.

Each family member may experience migraines differently. One family member may have only one headache a few times a year while another may have daily headaches. Every family member may respond differently to treatment.

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