May is National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are considered to be a very serious medical problem since it deprives the brain of oxygen and stops the flow of blood to the brain. This, in turn, can cause brain damage to occur. As a result, a stroke can result in a baby developing cerebral palsy. In regards to stroke victims, they can develop hemiplegic cerebral palsy along with other medical problems such as vision problems, speech impairments, learning disabilities, and many more.
Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke with in term and near- term infants and children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Perinatal strokes are seventeen times more common than pediatric strokes past the newborn period. Arterial ischemia is responsible for fifty percent to seventy percent of congenital hemiplegic cerebral palsy. A few statistics show that pediatric strokes affect 25 in 100,000 newborns and 12 in 100,000 children under the age of eighteen. The causes can vary from a lack of oxygen during the time of delivery to being caused by genetic disorders.
Pediatric stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in children. Children that are at risk of having a stroke include:
- Newborn infants, especially infants that are full- term.
- Older children that have sickle cell anemia, congenital heart defects, immune disorders or problems with blood clotting.
- Children who were once healthy that have hidden disorders such as narrow blood vessels or have a tendency to form blood clots easily.
Often times, stroke symptoms are overlooked or are misdiagnosed with medical conditions such as epilepsy, migraines, and viral illnesses. The early treatment after a child has a stroke can lead to long- term functional outcomes and minimizing further health complications.
Signs And Symptoms
A few signs and symptoms of a stroke are:
- A weakness or numbness on one side of the body.
- Complications with walking due to weakness or trouble moving one side of the body, or caused by a loss of coordination.
- Problems with speaking or understanding spoken language.
- Having a difficult time seeing in one or both eyes.
- An onset of seizures.
- Constant, nonstop, and worsening headaches.
In newborns and infants, the symptoms include seizures, extreme sleepiness, and a preference to use one side of their body. As a result, when an infant has a stroke, the first signs and symptoms to arise are the child only using one side of his or her body to complete tasks.