Stroke: Its Youngest Victims

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The risk of having a stroke doubles every ten years after the age 55. However, that doesn't mean strokes cannot happen in children, or even babies. (KFSN)

The risk of having a stroke doubles every ten years after the age 55. However, that doesn't mean strokes cannot happen in children, or even babies. Here are details why a stroke still remains one of the top ten leading causes of death for children.

There are two periods in your lifetime when you may have an increased risk for a stroke.

"One is around the time of your delivery and the other is the stroke most people know about which is for older people with primarily cardiovascular or vascular problems," said James Baumgartner, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida.

In both of these cases, chances of stroke-associated death or disability are increased. While high blood pressure and a hardening of the arteries are risk factors for adult strokes, the risk factors for strokes in babies include, heart defects, abnormal blood clotting, maternal history of infertility, premature rupture of the membrane, and pregnancy-related high blood pressure in the mother.

Of the babies who do survive a stroke, 50 to 80 percent of them will have a permanent disability, such as seizures or vision loss. Also "Kids that have perinatal stroke many of them get cerebral palsy," said Dr. Baumgartner.

So what can be done? The American Stroke Association said strokes in young children are very hard to prevent, but parents and doctors can take steps in reducing the chances of another stroke by recognizing and diagnosing the underlying issues for the first stroke.

The chances of a child having a stroke are highest, a couple of days before delivery and a few days afterwards. Twenty percent of children who had a stroke will have another one.

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