Contrary to what many people think, strokes can also occur in children, unborn babies, or infants. There are two age classifications for pediatric stroke, namely, perinatal and childhood. Childhood stroke affects infants up to 18 year-olds. Perinatal stroke refers to the last 18 weeks of gestation and during the first 30 days of birth. Other descriptions for this particular age period are the prenatal or fetal period before birth. It’s almost impossible to identify stroke in little children.
Stroke is very common just like brain tumors affecting the pediatric population. It is even one among the top ten killer diseases in the world. Of all patients surviving stress, about 60% will experience permanent neurological disorders, most commonly hemiplegia. Hemiparesis or hemiplegia is the commonest form of cerebral palsy and stroke has proven to be the main cause.
Other long-term complications triggered by stroke include:
- Cognitive and sensory impairments
- Poor attention
- Communication disorder
- Poor quality of life
- Visual disturbances
Most of the pediatric strokes manifest during the perinatal period. The most focused duration of risk for the detrimental ischemic stroke is the first week after birth. For many perinatal strokes, the exact cause is identifiable. The risk for another stroke is very low at less than 1%. When newborns are affected by stroke, symptoms might not appear until the end of four to eight months of age. They will occur in the form of reduced movement or drastic weakness on part of the body.
Cerebral Palsy refers to a difficulty in movement, which leads to an abnormality or damage to the brain just before or during birth. Hence, for stroke, cerebral palsy is only applicable to perinatal stroke.
For those children suffering from an initial stroke, the danger of more recurrent strokes is about 15-18%. Many people with stroke-related symptoms are often misdiagnosed with several other complications that mimic strokes like viral illnesses, migraines or epilepsy.
- Older children having congenital heart problems, sickle cell anemia, blood clotting disorders, or immune problems.
- Previously healthy kids who are found with underlying diseases like narrow blood tissues or the likelihood to develop blood clots easily.
Symptoms of Stroke
The commonest symptoms associated with stroke include:
- Sudden onset of severe headache pains
- Difficulty seeing clearly
- Weakness of the face, legs, and arms, usually on a single side of the body.
- The sudden appearance of seizures, particularly affecting one part of the body, followed by detrimental paralysis on the region where the seizures are prevalent.
- Problems speaking or comprehending different languages, including the inability to speak, difficulty giving simple instructions, and slurred speech.
- Extreme sleepiness
- A greater tendency to utilize a single side of the body during movement or performance of tasks.
Specialists Who Treat Stroke
- Speech-language pathologists: They perform assessments and assist with speech and language problems.
- Pediatricians: These are community-held specialists who help patients coordinate issues with children’s general health.
- Neurosurgeons: They’re occasionally involved in handling certain types of stroke that demand critical surgical procedures.
- Hematologist: Blood specialists who perform tests for blood clotting illnesses or occasional causes of pediatric stroke.
- Rehabilitation specialists: They include doctors like physiatrists and developmental specialists with specialization in patient rehabilitation.
- Orthopedic Surgeons: These are experts in "mechanical" complications of stroke - like extreme tightness in the arms or legs that may be solved by surgery.