Children and newborn babies can develop a stroke. A stroke is the disturbance of blood to the brain. The brain cells in the immediate region perish and those in the adjacent areas are affected by the condensed blood flow. Once brain cells perish, their functions die with them. The causes of juvenile strokes are not well comprehended, but are thought to contain blood vessel complications in the brain and clots travelling from the heart.
Types of stroke
There are two main types of stroke:
- Ischaemic stroke – an embolism (either a clot of blood or a piece of debris) blocks a blood vessel in the brain, interrupting blood flow.
- Haemorrhagic stroke – a ruptured blood vessel bleeds into the brain. In newborns, bleeding into the space surrounding the brain can occur and this is called a subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Symptoms of stroke in children
Strokes that occur in babies often show themselves as seizures, but they can be missed until parents notice later that the baby has difficulty moving a part of their body. Sometimes, strokes may affect the way a baby is developing.
Toddlers or older children may develop sudden signs such as:
- Weakness in an arm or leg, particularly on one side. This can cause trouble with walking, standing and/or using the affected arm. For older kids, this might also include shock in the arm or leg.
- Trouble speaking, understanding, reading, writing, or focussing.
- Trouble with their vision.
- Faintness, loss of balance or reduced coordination.
- Difficulty absorbing food, including drooling.