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Strokes in Children

Contrary to popular belief, strokes do occur in children; however, it is true that strokes in children are not as common as strokes in adults. Most strokes in children seem to be hemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by bleeding in the brain. The symptoms of stroke in children may include seizures, a sudden loss of speech, and weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Treatment of a stroke in children is often similar to treatment received by adults who have had a stroke.

An Introduction to Strokes in Children

There is a myth that strokes only occur in adults. The fact is that children can also have strokes; however, strokes are not as common in children as they are in adults. Based on stroke research studies, strokes appear to happen in up to 3 in every 100,000 children each year.

Risk Factors for Stroke in Children

There are a number of risk factors that increase the chances that a child might have a stroke. However, how important each one of these risk factors is in causing a stroke is not known. Some known risk factors for strokes in children include:
  • Genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia, tuberous sclerosis, and Marfan's syndrome
  • Congenital heart disease, such as an atrial septal defect, aortic stenosis, or patent ductus arteriosus
  • Acquired heart diseases, such as rheumatic heart disease or endocarditis
  • Problems with blood vessels caused by conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or lupus
  • Certain cancer, such as leukemia
  • Head trauma
  • Infection within the brain or just outside the brain, such as meningitis.
In up to 80 percent of cases, doctors can identify the cause of stroke in children.
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