When you think about a stroke patient, you may picture an old person with high blood pressure without thinking about infants or children. Unfortunately, stroke can affect everyone at any age. However, pediatric stroke and adult stroke are not the same. And let’s start to figure out how they are different.
Most common types of strokes
In adults, most strokes (about 80%) are caused by blockage and blood clot. And about 20% of strokes in adults are caused by bleeding into the brain. In children, up to 50% of cases are caused by blockage and blot clot, and other cases come from bleeding into the brain.
Within the first year of life, children have greatest chances of having a stroke. Stroke is also reported during the perinatal period. About 80-90% of cases are caused by blockage, 10-20% are caused by bleeding into the brain.
Causes and risk factors
Risks factors for stroke in children are different from those for adults.
In adults, risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease (heart infection, heart defects, heart failure, or abnormal heart rhythm), obesity, overweight, lack of physical activity.
In children, risk factors include heart disease, birth defects, sickle cell disease, problems with blood vessels that supply the brain, blood clotting disorders, infections, head trauma, dehydration. For perinatal stroke, the main cause is unknown but risk factors may include congenital heart disease, dehydration, infections, blood clotting disorders, or problems with the placenta. Now you can see, risk factors for stroke in adults are much different than childhood stroke.
Signs and symptoms
In young children, seizures that involve one leg or arm usually the first symptom of stroke. But in adult, seizures are not common.
Because newborns still do not develop language or walking skills, they cannot show symptoms such as trouble walking or slurred speech like adults.
Prevention and treatment of stroke
Prevention and treatment of stroke in children are also different.
In adults, the clot-buster called tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) is used to treat ischemic stroke. It can dissolve blood clots. However, tPA is not recommended for children, especially infants. There is no evidence that tPA is safe for this age group.
Because the first sign often is an initial stroke, it is difficult to prevent a stroke in children. Early diagnosis may help prevent complications and managing underlying risk factors may help reduce the chances of recurrence and improve life quality.
Pediatric stroke differs from adult stroke. Getting to know about these differences can help parents protect their children better: better diagnosis, better treatment, and better recovery. Remember this, your child can have a stroke, just like other people.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 25, 2017 | Last Modified: May 25, 2017
A family guide of pediatric stroke. http://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/other/a-family-guide-to-pediatric-stroke-eng.ashx. Accessed May 1, 2017.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/home/ovc-20117264. Accessed May 1, 2017.
Pediatric Stroke. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/nervous_system_disorders/pediatric_stroke_22,PediatricStroke/. Accessed May 1, 2017.
FACTS – Knowing no bounds: Stroke in Children, Infants and Youth. http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/stroke-public/@wcm/@hcm/@sta/documents/downloadable/ucm_311389.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2017.
Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA). http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/stroke-public/@wcm/@hcm/@gwtg/documents/downloadable/ucm_430859.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2017.