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Kansas City Star: Migraine tortured this teen for years. Then she found 'miracle' solution in Kansas City

Sonja B.

By Lisa Gutierrez

One morning when she was in middle school, Sonja Mae Burnett woke up at home in Arkansas with a migraine headache. It was her first. She wound up suffering for years until she found a solution nearly 300 miles away in Kansas City. 

At first, her vision got blurry. Then the girl who played volleyball, and alto sax in the marching band, tripped and fell and bumped into walls. Her brain stopped recognizing up from down, left from right. When she thought she was standing still, she was wobbling. 

And when Meredith Burnett’s “child with higher vocabulary,” a chess club member, began speaking in smaller words, she thought: “Oh-oh.”

When doctors in their rural part of northwest Arkansas couldn’t find a solution, they referred the Burnetts to the pediatric headache specialists at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

Sonja, who is now 17 and a high school junior, says the solution she found in Kansas City “was a miracle.” 

She is one of about 10,000 children the headache specialists at Children’s Mercy treat each year, said Dr. Trevor Gerson, Sonja’s doctor in Kansas City. 

Children’s Mercy estimates more than 40,000 children in the Kansas City metro suffer from moderate to severe headaches, and says the numbers are growing. 

In the United States, 10% of all school-age children and up to 28% of teens 15 to 19 live with migraine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

“I see school-age kids. We see young preschool kids. It’s a big problem,” said Gerson, who agrees with researchers who say migraine in children merits more study.


Read the full story via The Kansas City Star

Learn more about the Headache Program at Children's Mercy