Lifewatch: Children strokes

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Thousands of children suffer from a stroke every year.  While it is an illness many associate only with adults, a stroke is equally devastating for children.

Children's strokes are often caused by birth defects, infections, trauma, or blood disorders.  Scientists have started a study which could lead them to a simple blood test which will predict if a child is prone to getting a stroke.

Over the past three years 6-year-old Alfie Oakley has had multiple strokes, a condition more commonly associated with people ten times his age.

Alfie has a narrowed artery in his brain and has had to have major surgery to try to fix it.

Strokes happen when the blood supply is disrupted to the brain either because of a blockage such as a clot or because of a bleed from a burst blood vessel.

The new research hopes to come up with a simple blood test to predict the future risk to children who already had strokes.

"It would simply involve taking a blood sample from the child and then looking at certain markers in the blood that are there floating around in the blood as a result of injury to the blood vessels in the child's brain," said Dr. Yolande Harley with Action Medical Research.

The new test could help Alfie and hundreds like him to celebrate many more birthdays.

A severe headache is often the first complaint of a stroke in children.  Other signs include nausea and vomiting, a slow pulse, or speech difficulties.  Call 911 immediately if your child shows these symptoms.