By: Alaap Anklesaria, MS HCM
Stroke is something that not many parents think about. However, according to the American Stroke Association the risk of stroke among children is greatest in the first year of life. Stroke also occurs in about one of every 3,500 live births. The risk of stroke from birth through age 19 is nearly 5 per 100,000 children per year. In fact, stroke is one of the top 10 causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 19.
The American Stroke Association notes that the risk factors of stroke for children are much different than those of adults. About half of the children presenting with a stroke had a previously identified risk factor or underlying yet to be diagnosed disease. For example, sickle cell disease and congenital or acquired heart disease are the most common underlying risk factors.
Medical Second Opinion: According to the American Stroke Association, delayed or misdiagnosis of stroke in children is still common. The incidence of stroke in US children ages 0-15 is estimated at 6.4 out of 100,000. Nevertheless, the incidence of stroke in children has been stable over the last 10 years, although at least one study found that the incident rate in U.S. children may be two to four times higher than previously published estimates. Between 20% to 40% of children die after a stroke and boys are 1.3 higher risk than girls according to American Stroke Association.
Although not often necessary, getting a second opinion on your child’s diagnosis or treatment plan is often a good idea. American Stroke Association notes that some children who have suffered a stroke may appear quite normal but later have developmental delay. A second opinion generally brings clarity and peace of mind to parents since diagnosing children is often generally challenging.
Dr. Lyons, Director of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston notes that “strokes among children can be challenging to diagnose the causes. Diagnosis requires careful clinical examination and brain imaging.” American Stroke Association also notes that because the initial sign of a problem is not often a stroke, preventing childhood stroke can be difficult.
For parents seeking a second medical opinion, Dr. Lyons outlines five simple steps they can take:
Alaap Anklesaria graduated from Johns Hopkins University and is an intern with Xpertcare, an online medical second opinion service for pediatric patients.