Pediatric strokes: Causes, Symptoms and Management

"Strokes may be less frequent in children but they require as much concern and treatment that are given to adults. Pediatric strokes can affect both newborns and children In this article, discover the symptoms of strokes in children and what to do if it occurs."

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A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to the brain. The blood is responsible for transport of oxygen, nutrients and other important substances to the body’s cells and organs, including the brain. 


Strokes do not only occur in adults but in children too, though it happens less frequently. The signs of pediatric strokes are usually subtle in children. They are undetected early because they are not expected in children. They can happen in newborns (perinatal stroke), children (childhood stroke) and even before birth. Pediatric strokes affect 25 in 100,000 newborns and 12 in 100,000 children under 18 years of age.


The tendency for a child to develop pediatric stroke is increased due to the following: heart problems, sickle cell disease, head injury, birth defects, genetic diseases, infection (such as meningitis, varicella, and encephalitis) and so on.


Signs and symptoms of pediatric strokes are usually based on the age of the child and the cause of the stroke. In newborns, strokes can be characterized by seizures, preference for use of one hand over the other and apnea. In kids and teens, stroke is characterized by seizures, delirium, paralysis on one side of the body, dysarthria, nausea and so on.


Stanford Children’s Health encodes the symptoms in an easy way using the mnemonics F.A.S.T.  Which stands for: is for face drooping, A is for arm weakness, S is for speech difficulty, and T is for time to call 911. It is important to call 911 at the first sign of stroke so as to begin treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment may include: Intravenous (IV) fluids to avoid or reverse dehydration, oxygen, blood transfusions and so on, based on the cause of the stroke.


Recovery from a pediatric stroke is very possible. Although one’s child might need to receive physical, occupational, and rehabilitation therapy due to long term neurological deficits that remain with over 75% of surviving children. Some of these deficits resulting from pediatric stroke include: Hemiplegia, epilepsy, cognitive disorders, speech and language problems and personality changes.


It is necessary to improve awareness and develop systematic strategies to pediatric stroke care with the availability of neuro-protective and emergency treatment strategies that could benefit children.


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