When the topic of stroke comes up, people are likely to picture an adult victim. Sadly, this is not always the case. Teenagers, children, newborns – even unborn babies can also suffer a stroke. It remains one of the top 10 causes of death in children.
A child’s risk of stroke is greatest in the first year of life, and during the period right before birth to right after birth. According to the National Stroke Association, stroke occurs in one in 4,000 live births. The risk of stroke from birth to age 18 is almost 11 in 100,000; though they are slightly more common in children under age 2.
Adults tend to be at higher risk for stroke because they have high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and/or a hardening of the arteries. Pediatric stroke risks are much different, and include:
- Congenital heart defects
- Sickle-cell disease
- Abnormal blood clotting
- Head or neck trauma
- Maternal history of infertility
- Maternal infection in the fluid surrounding an unborn baby
- Pregnancy-related high blood pressure in the mother
Signs & Symptoms
Many times, recognition of stroke is delayed or missed in children. The most common signs and symptoms of stroke in newborns and infants are:
- Seizures, including repetitive twitching of the face, arm or leg
- Apnea (pauses in breathing) associated with staring
- Extreme sleepiness
- A tendency to use only one side of their body
- With children and teens, look for:
- Weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body
- Severe dizziness or loss of coordination
- Severe sudden headache, especially with vomiting and sleepiness
- Difficulty speaking or understanding others
- Vision loss or double vision
- New onset of seizures, usually on one side of the body
For more information about stroke please call 1-833-216-2071.