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Childhood Strokes Often Missed by Doctors


Certain illnesses are associated with childhood: chicken pox, colic, ear infections and others-but not strokes. However, one in 4,000 babies every year suffer from strokes and some occur during the birthing process. Twenty to 40 percent of childhood strokes are fatal. The key to minimizing the trauma of a childhood stroke is to know what can cause a childhood stroke and some of the symptoms.

Causes of Childhood Strokes

Simply put, a stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. The result is loss of tissue and brain function. The most common cause of stroke in a newborn is a blood clot resulting from a birth injury. Additionally, medical professionals have identified over 100 risk factors for stroke in newborns and children. Some of the more common risk factors include:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Hematological diseases
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Vascular disorders
  • Infection, including chicken pox

Symptoms of Strokes in Infants and Children

Symptoms of a stroke can vary depending on the age of the child. Symptoms of stroke in infants include:

  • Seizures on one side of the body
  • Apnea
  • Poor breast feeding
  • Early hand preference before 10 months of age

Stroke symptoms in young children can be:

  • Impediments in gross motor development
  • Tightness or restricted movements in arms or legs
  • Language delays

Stroke symptoms in older children can be:

  • Seizures
  • Sudden paralysis on one side of the body
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting

Long-Term Effects of Childhood Strokes

Strokes can impact victims’ lives long after the stroke itself is over. Fifty to 80 percent of childhood stroke victims will experience:

  • One-sided paralysis of the body
  • Seizures
  • Speech problems
  • Vision problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Cognitive changes
  • Memory difficulties
  • Difficulty in judgment or problem solving

Childhood stroke victims also often require years of surgery, physical therapy, medications, and special education to recover from the resulting damage of the stroke.

Additionally, childhood strokes can have a devastating impact on the child’s family emotionally and financially.

Missing the Signs of a Stroke

Unfortunately, many medical professionals miss the signs of a stroke in an infant or child increasing the severity of the problem.

Statistics reveal that many medical professionals do not discover the cause of the stroke in one-third of newborns and in one-tenth of children.

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