A stroke is a medical condition that occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted and brain cells are deprived of oxygen. It is in common misconception that only adults have strokes. Anyone of any age can experience a stroke, including infants, children, and teens. Certain factors, such as a congenital heart defect, maternal high blood pressure during pregnancy, or head or neck trauma increase the risks of a child having a pediatric stroke.
As with strokes in adults, quickly recognizing the symptoms of a pediatric stroke and seeking immediate medical attention helps reduce the damage to the brain. In newborns, a stroke can be hard to spot and sometimes is not diagnosed until months later. However, some of the warning signs are seizures, excessive sleepiness, and lack of movement on one side of the infant’s body.
In older kids, the FAST warning signs used to spot a stroke in adults (facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties and time to call 911) may be helpful but there are some additional symptoms to look for that are unique to strokes in children. These include severe headaches, vomiting, loss of coordination, and feeling dizzy. Every minute counts when it comes to treating strokes, so call 911 if you suspect your child may be having one.