Several new research studies have shown that common infections, such as a regular cold or chickenpox, might increase the risk of children having strokes. A stroke is something that is very rare in children, and one of the various studies discovered that childhood vaccines seemed to offer some protection against strokes happening in childhood. But kids who have suffered a stroke were most likely to have recently had an infection compared to children who had not had strokes, stated Dr. Heather Fullerton, who is one of authors working on the three studies. She added that there seemed to be a predominantly strong link for an infection happening the week before a stroke happened in a child, almost an increase of seven percent increase in the risk of stroke.
However most parents do not need to start being extremely worried about a stroke happening. It is clear that infections are extremely common and strokes are very rare in children. What appears to be happening is that infections seem to be some sort of cause for a stroke in children who are already possibly inclined to having one.
Dr. Fullerton is the head director of a pediatric stroke center at the University of California. She and her team have been scheduled to present their discovery at an American Stroke Association meeting in the near future. The studies that the doctor was involved in were all pieces of a bigger research study on the vascular actions of infection in children. The researchers’ enlisted nearly 312 children who all had went through having a stroke. The kids’ average age was around 7 years. One of the studies, which observed parvovirus, had blood samples from over 160 children who had suffered a stroke. The studies all contained a group of children who had not had strokes for comparison.
Another of the studies discovered that having an infection of less than seven days before the stroke was linked to a seven percent higher chance of having a stroke. The most common infections reported during this study were upper respiratory infections. This study also discovered those children who had only a few or none of the suggested childhood vaccines had a seven percent higher stroke risk. If the child had received a measles-mumps-rubella, pneumococcus or polio vaccine, then they were much more likely to be protected against having a stroke.
The researchers also investigated for evidence of any herpes infection preceding the stroke. They tested the children for the varicella zoster virus, which is more usually known as chickenpox. They discovered proof of a recent infection of herpes virus in 41 percent of the kids who had suffered from strokes. However, Dr. Fuller stated again that the reason behind the studies was to better understand strokes in children, not to get the public to panic.
Besides having a recent infection, there really are not very many risk factors for strokes in children. The biggest risk would be recent neck or head trauma, stated the American Heart Association. The AHA believes that strokes affect about five out of 100,000 children in America each year. The signs to look for in children are exactly the same as what they are in adults: sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body, unexpected difficulty in speaking, sudden vision trouble, confusion, trouble walking, dizziness and/or severe headache.
Children could also have seizures during a stroke, especially young children. What was so disturbing was this study discovered that only about half of parents instantly called up for any type of emergency help. The typical time before parents got their children to the emergency room was almost two hours, and it had taken some parents almost 24 hours. This is very dangerous because getting to the hospital as soon as possible is critical when a person is having a stroke. Physicians might be able to use medications which break up blood clots in order to help stop a stroke and halt the damage it does. But this is only able to occur within a few hours of the time of when the stroke symptoms first began. So, if someone believes he or she is seeing stroke signs in a child, then immediately call nine-one-one. If so, then the research studies which show the increase of a child having a stroke might just go down.
By Kimberly Ruble