Stroke Symptoms in Children
It’s amazing how the little things seem to mean so much. This week, my 10-month-old daughter actually got off her stomach and crawled on her hands and knees. I couldn’t get the camcorder fast enough. I’m screaming and jumping up and down like an idiot, so excited that my daughter can now get across the room in record time. Meanwhile, I’m wondering why I didn’t finish baby proofing the house a few weeks ago. (Mental note: do it now!!)
As I get older, I cherish the time spent with my children more than anything else. I still enjoy my son, even though he is a teenager now. I’m lucky we are so close. And now I count my blessings that I get to do it all again with my little girl. While she’ll only hear stories of her mother’s stroke, my son, being 7 years-old at the time, lived it with me. He doesn’t worry about it so much anymore, but the thought is in the back of his mind about whether or not he’ll endure the same fate as Mom. Of course, I can’t guarantee he will never have a stroke. You can’t guarantee anyone won’t have one. I was only 31 at the time, but stroke can hit all ages, even children.
In fact, stroke in children is not as rare as researchers once thought. In the first scientific statement on the topic, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association addresses not only the symptoms and risk for stroke in infants and children, but also the treatments. And they are not always similar to the risks and symptoms in adults.
The risk of stroke from birth to 18 years is 10.7 per every 100,000 children per year. The most common risk factors for childhood strokes are sickle cell disease and congenital or acquired heart disease. Other factors include head and neck infections, head trauma and dehydration. The risk of stroke in kids is greatest in the first year of life, especially in the first two months. In newborns, the first symptoms are often seizures that involve only one arm or leg. Stroke can occur before birth as well.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, getting help fast is crucial to minimize brain damage, disability and even death. However, a major treatment difference between adults and children is the use of the drug tPA. This clot-busting drug saved my life, but it’s not recommended for treating young children, especially newborns.
Luckily, awareness for stroke has increased so much since I had mine back in 2001. I believe we are on the right track in preventing stroke. As long as people realize it can happen to anyone at any age at any time, we will hopefully bring down the number of victims more and more in the future.
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