Pediatric Stroke Causes and Recovery

Mother holding an infant

What causes ischemic stroke in children?

  • Blood clots form in the heart and travel to the brain. This can be caused by congenital heart problems such as abnormal valves or infections. In these cases, children may need surgery or antibiotics.
  • At least 10% of children with sickle cell disease suffer a stroke. In sickle cell disease, the red blood cells can’t carry oxygen to the brain. Blood vessels leading to the brain may have narrowed or closed.
  • The American Stroke Association and the National Institutes of Health recommend that children with SCD between the ages of 2 and 16 be screened annually with transcranial doppler (TCD) ultrasound. TCD is a simple, painless test that can determine whether children with SCD are at a high risk for stroke. Regular blood transfusions can reduce stroke risk in these children by more than 90%.
  • Ischemic strokes result from events that limit or stop blood flow. Risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, obesity, sickle cell, cardiac disease, or even a neck injury or trauma etc.

What causes hemorrhagic stroke in children?

  • When a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, blood can't reach its destination. As a result, the brain is deprived of oxygen, which may lead to permanent brain injury.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes are most often caused by rupturing, weakened or malformed arteries called arteriovenous malformations (AVMS). The risk of hemorrhage is higher with certain illnesses such as hemophilia.

Will my child get better?

Each child recovers differently from stroke. Prompt medical treatment and rehabilitation therapy can maximize recovery. In general, younger people recover more abilities than older people.

What are the effects of stroke?

The effects of stroke in a child are generally the same as in an adult. The most common effects are:


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