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Chewing Gum can cause Migraines in Teens

Update Date: Dec 19, 2013 03:55 PM EST

For a lot of people, chewing gum has become a part of every day life. With the options of sugar free gum, this snack is not particular unhealthy. However, in a new report, researchers found that chewing gum can contribute to migraines for teenagers and young children.

Dr. Nathan Watemberg from the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center set out to study the effects of chewing gum on teenagers and young children. The researchers recruited 30 patients between the ages of six and 19. The participants all chewed gum for at least an hour to up to six hours per day. The participants were asked to skip gum for one month.

Out of this sample set, 26 of them stated that they felt improvements in their migraines when they stopped chewing gum. 19 of the 26 participants had complete headache resolution. The researchers then asked the same group of 26 patients who previously reported improvement in their migraines to start chewing gum. These patients stated that their migraines symptoms returned.

Even though the researchers could not identify how chewing gum causes migraines, one theory stated that gum chewing places extra stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the meeting point between the jaw and the skull.

"Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," said Dr. Watemberg according to Medical Xpress. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."

Another theory presented by researchers was that aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener often used in sugar-free products, causes migraines. However, Watemberg stated that the amount of aspartame in chewing gum is too low to cause this side effect. The researchers recommend teenagers and young children to take a break from gum if they suffer from migraines and headaches.

The study was published in Pediatric Neurology.

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