Doctor will study whether Botox can ease headaches for children

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Medical research will try to find out if the cosmetic drug Botox can relieve chronic headaches in children.

The Food and Drug Administration last year approved Botox as a wrinkle remover for adults. But during testing, doctors noted that people who got Botox injections also reported having fewer

That led to new tests of Botox as a possible therapy for adult chronic headaches. A doctor at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron wants to determine if Botox also might help youngsters 10 and older with the debilitating condition.

"Headaches are really common in children," said the study's director, Dr. Robert Burnstine, head of pediatric ophthalmology at the hospital. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see at least five kids with headaches."

Pediatricians who cannot determine why a child is having persistent headaches often conclude that poor vision must be responsible and send the patient to Burnstine for an exam. But Burnstine says that in most of those cases, the child's eyes are fine.

Although Botox is now widely known as a wrinkle remover, the FDA approved the drug more than a decade ago to treat the involuntary muscle contractions that cause crossed eyes and uncontrollable blinking.

Botox, a brand name for botulinum toxin type A, temporarily paralyzes muscles at spots where it is injected.

Burnstine said he has used Botox extensively in patients with eye problems. From that experience, he proposed the child headache study to Allergan Inc., maker of Botox.

Burnstine said he will recruit 10 to 20 volunteers from patients referred to him over the next few months by the hospital's pediatric neurology program. Only children who are not responding to available treatments will be considered.

Allergan is supplying free Botox, which normally costs up to $400 a treatment.

After the patients receive injections in the face and neck, they will keep a "headache diary" for three months to compare how they fared before and after treatment.

If Botox appears to be safe and effective for treating headaches of children, longer, scientifically designed patient trials would be held in various places before the drug became available to the public for that purpose.

In a study published in November's issue of Pediatrics, the toxin enabled some children with cerebral palsy to walk without braces and ride tricycles, said Dr. L. Andrew Koman, the lead researcher and an orthopedic surgery professor at Wake Forest University.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)