Topiramate (Topamax) is approved by the FDA for adolescents.

Yesterday, the FDA approved the first preventive (prophylactic) treatment for migraines in adolescents – kids between the ages of 12 and 17. Topamax (topiramate) was first approved by the FDA in 1996 to prevent seizures. It was approved for migraine prevention in adults in 2004.
As the FDA stated in its announcement, “Migraine headaches can impact school performance, social interactions, and family life. Adding dosing and safety information for the adolescent age group to the drug’s prescribing information will help to inform health care professionals and patients in making treatment choices.”
The announcement also stated that “About 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences migraine headaches. Migraine headaches are characterized by episodes of throbbing and pulsating pain in the head, and may occur several times per month. Other common symptoms include increased sensitivity to light, noise, and odors, as well as nausea and vomiting. Many patients experience their first migraine attack before reaching adulthood, and migraine can be just as disabling in teens as it is in adults.

The safety and effectiveness of Topamax in preventing migraine headaches in adolescents ages 12 to 17 was established in a clinical trial that enrolled 103 participants. Those treated with Topamax experienced a decrease in the frequency of migraine of approximately 72 percent compared to 44 percent in participants that took an inactive drug (placebo).

The most common adverse reactions with the approved dose of Topamax (100 milligrams) were paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet), upper respiratory infection, anorexia (loss of appetite), and abdominal pain.

Topamax increases the risk of the development of cleft lip and/or cleft palate (oral clefts) in infants born to women who take the drug during pregnancy. The benefits and risks of Topamax should be carefully weighed before using it in women of childbearing age. If the decision is made to use the medication by a woman of childbearing age, effective birth control should be used.”

It is a little surprising that the FDA based its approval on such as small study – 103 patients. I should add that topiramate can also cause cognitive side effects, such as memory and word retrieval problems in a significant percentage of children and adults. Approximately 20% of adults taking topiramate for more than a year or two develop kidney stones. This most likely can also happen in children. As you can tell from this and my previous posts, I am not a big fan of Topamax. In kids particularly we begin with life style and dietary changes, biofeedback, magnesium, CoQ10 and other supplements and even Botox injections, which are very safe, before resorting to prophylactic drugs such as topiramate.
Julie Mauskop
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