Stroke is a common condition among older adults that can lead to dangerous complications. So, the question here is whether children can also experience strokes. If a child has a stroke, how should it be handled? The following article will delve into this topic and provide parents with detailed insights.
Can children have strokes?
Stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, is a dangerous medical condition that can occur in any age group and often leaves severe consequences, even resulting in loss of life. While strokes are more commonly associated with older adults, other age groups, including children and adolescents, are also at risk.
So, can children have strokes? The answer is YES. While the incidence of strokes in children is relatively low, it is often not detected early, leading to serious consequences. Therefore, stroke prevention in children remains a challenge for the healthcare industry in general.
Causes and Recognizing Signs of Stroke in Children
While adults may experience strokes due to various factors such as smoking, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, etc., strokes in children are primarily caused by congenital heart diseases or abnormalities in the cerebral blood vessels. This is in stark contrast to strokes in older adults.
When parents notice the following symptoms in their child, they should not take it lightly and should seek medical attention as soon as possible, as the golden time to treat a stroke is measured in seconds. Specific signs of stroke in children include:
- Sudden, severe headaches, accompanied by visual disturbances and dizziness.
- Loss of vision.
- Excessive crying along with vomiting.
- After vomiting, the child may experience headache relief but then exhibit seizures, loss of consciousness, and facial asymmetry while eating, drinking, or crying.
- Inability to grip or hold objects normally. The hand may not be raised high.
- Sudden slurred speech, with unclear and difficult-to-understand words.
- Drooping of one side of the face.
- Difficulty swallowing food, with drooling.
- Dragging one side of the body while walking.
- Easily becoming pale when exerting effort.
If a stroke in a child is detected late, the likelihood of mortality is high, or even after treatment, it may leave severe consequences such as disabilities, half-body paralysis, making it impossible for the child to take care of themselves independently.
What to Do When a Child Has a Stroke?
According to specialist doctors, the golden period for stroke treatment is typically within the first 6 hours from the onset of initial symptoms. However, for adults, this timeframe may extend further. In the case of pediatric stroke, the golden time is shorter due to its rarity and insufficient research to draw precise conclusions. Therefore, prompt action for stroke in children is crucial.
When parents observe signs of stroke in their child, they should immediately call for assistance and contact the nearest medical facility. Additionally, they should pay attention to the following:
Recommended steps when a child has a stroke:
- Place the child on their back or tilt their head slightly to one side in a comfortable position, avoiding aspiration of vomit into the respiratory tract. Ensure head safety, slightly elevate the shoulder supported by a pillow or clothing.
- Limit the child’s movement.
- Keep the surroundings well-ventilated for easy breathing.
- Loosen clothing to make the child feel more comfortable.
- Pay attention to the child’s condition and any changing symptoms to provide accurate information to emergency personnel.
- If the patient shows signs of respiratory arrest, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as soon as possible.
Things NOT to Do When a Child Has a Stroke:
- Do not attempt to treat the patient on your own (acupuncture, cupping therapy, acupressure, bloodletting at the fingertips, back, or behind the ears) as these actions can worsen the child’s condition and waste precious time for proper treatment.
- Do not give the child any food or drink to prevent the risk of aspiration. If the child vomits, there is a high risk of inhaling the vomit or food into the airway, which can be dangerous.
- Do not administer any medication to the child without proper medical guidance.
Screening for Stroke in Children
Currently, there are two methods used to screen, prevent, or diagnose strokes in children: magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and computed tomography angiography (CTA) with contrast injection. If any abnormalities in the cerebral blood vessels are detected, doctors may consider proactive treatment to prevent ruptures. Early diagnosis of vascular malformations before they rupture not only yields better treatment outcomes but also ensures ten times higher safety compared to interventions after rupture.
Therefore, when parents notice their child experiencing headaches accompanied by symptoms like vomiting, facial asymmetry, confusion, seizures, weakness on one side of the body, etc., they should promptly take the child to a specialized neurological healthcare facility for thorough examination and timely diagnosis. Under no circumstances should they resort to folk remedies, as they are ineffective and may delay the critical “golden hour” for emergency care.
The information provided above addresses whether children can have strokes, along with the causes and identifying signs. Hopefully, this content has provided you with valuable knowledge to benefit both yourself and your loved ones.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.