Awareness & Fast Response Key to Combating Stroke in Children
By Dr. Renee
When you think of strokes you typically think of adults, but research shows that children have strokes as well. A study on stroke in children conducted by the National Stroke Foundation and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute was presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.
Warning Signs of a Stroke?
The signs of stroke in children are very similar to adults:
- Weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg
- Sudden difficulty in speaking
- Sudden problems in seeing
- Sudden difficulty walking
- Sudden onset of headache
Researchers interviewed 28 parents whose child had a stroke about the factors that delayed arrival to the hospital. Seizures were more common in younger children and strokes mostly occurred at home. The parents thought the symptoms were serious, but only half called 9-1-1; 36% considered the possibility of stroke and 21% had a “wait and see” attitude or called a relative before taking emergency action.
The lead researcher and director of the Children’s Stroke Program at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Mark MacKay says, “Think stroke, act fast, and call 9-1-1.” This applies to children and adults. In order to administer clot-busting drugs, you need to identify a stroke victim within 3-4.5 hours from the onset of symptoms.
“Getting to the hospital quickly is an essential first step to develop strategies to improve access to emergency treatment in children,” MacKay said.
Dr. MacKay suggests that child neurologists educate primary care physicians, pediatricians, heart specialists and emergency room physicians about stroke in children and parents of children with conditions associated with increased risk, such as sickle cell disease or heart conditions.