Wednesday, 06 May 2009
May 3rd was National Childhood Stroke Awareness Day. 1 in every 4,000 infants will experience a STROKE before, during, or in the 30 days following birth! 1 in every 10,000 children from the ages of 1 month to 18 years old will suffer a stroke! Stroke can happen in the unborn fetus, in infants, in children, and in teenagers! It is NOT merely an adult condition!
I am proud to say that I am a childhood stroke survivor and will be letting the world know that through every way possible. We have come a long way in treatment and understanding of childhood stroke since my diagnosis 19 years ago, and I will be CELEBRATING that as well as praying for more new discoveries to be made in the year to come!
Here are some facts about childhood stroke (courtesy of www.brendonssmile.org).
Incidence of Stroke in Children:
The statistics currently vary, but a recent increase in epidemiological data support the following general numbers:
- Perinatal stroke occurs in roughly 25 out of 100,000 or 1 in 4,000 births. (“Perinatal” refers to the last 18 weeks of gestation through the first 30 days after birth.)
- For children 1 month-18 years old, stroke occurs in roughly 10 out of 100,000 children. About half of those strokes are due to hemorrhage and the other half due to blockade of an artery.
- 5-10% of children will die from their stroke.
It is vital that we recognize the warning signs of an acute stroke and realize that a stroke can happen in children. The following are warning signs/symptoms of an acute stroke, and vary according to the age of the child:
- Newborns- seizures, apnea, poor feeding, decreased tone, unilateral weakness, and other signs of depressed function in the immediate newborn period. Around 50% of strokes that happen in the perinatal period are not recognized until infancy or later when the child shows early hand preference (e.g. before 12 months), or other delays in motor, language, or cognitive development.
- Infants and Young Children- acute stroke in this age range typically appears as a sudden change in function with hemiparesis, with or without seizures. Often in this age group stroke occurs with fever, headache, and lethargy as well.
Older children- acute stroke presents similarly to younger children but sudden disrupted language/communication may be more commonly recognized in this age group.
Be prepared for an emergency!
- Keep a list of emergency rescue service numbers next to the telephone and in your pocket, wallet, or purse.
- Find out which area hospitals can provide specialized, 24-hour emergency care for CHILDREN who have had a stroke.
- Know (in advance) which hospital or medical facility is nearest to your home (or school) that can provide specialized care for CHILDREN who have had a stroke.Take action in an emergency.
- Not all the warning signs occur in every stroke. Don’t ignore signs of stroke!
- If your child has one or more stroke symptoms immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical service (EMS) number so an ambulance can quickly be sent for your child.
Always remember you are your child’s best advocate!
Diagnosis of acute stroke in children is often delayed because:
There is lack of general awareness that stroke can occur in newborns, infants, and children.
There is lack of awareness amongst health care professionals that stroke can occur in newborns, infants, and children.
Diagnosis of prior stroke in children is often delayed because:
- An infant commonly may not present with symptoms for several months as his/her brain has not matured enough to show symptoms of a stroke
- Non-use of affected upper limb is wrongly attributed to normal hand preference
- Delays in crawling and walking are wrongly attributed to normal “lateness”
- Many children who have suffered a stroke develop normal or near-normal language and cognitive functioning, therefore not raising suspicion.
Stroke in Children
- More than 85% of newborns who have a stroke survive to adulthood.
- More than 50% of infants and children will have significant long-term neurological disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia (one-sided paralysis), Hemiparesis (one-sided weakness), seizures, speech, vision, behavioral, and learning difficulties
- Many survivors require both acute and long-term rehabilitation
- All levels of health, education, and social services in the U.S. are utilized by survivors of pediatric stroke
Causes of Stroke in Babies (Pre-term and Full-term) and Children
There are over 100 risk factors that have been reported for stroke in newborns and children; however in roughly 33% of newborns and 25% of children, no explanation is found.
The most frequently reported risk factors in children are:
- Cardiac disorders
- Hematological disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Vascular disorders
- Infection, including chicken pox
PLEASE help me raise awareness so that no parent ever needs to hear the words that my parents, and many more than you think, had to hear: "Your child has suffered a stroke."
Do you know any children who have suffered strokes?