A child has a stroke when a part of the brain
can’t get the oxygen and blood that it needs.
Without blood supply, brain tissue cannot
survive. For this reason, quick response is
What are some common causes?
A common cause is that a blood clot forms
in the heart and travels to the brain. Trauma
to the head and neck can also be a cause.
Strokes in children are rare
Strokes occur in 1 out of 4,000 live births or
11 out of 100,000 children under 18 years
What does a stroke look like in a child?
If a child has had a stroke, there may be a
greater risk for another stroke. A quick
response can help prevent problems. If your
child has any of the signs listed below, call
911 right away.
ξ Sudden weakness or numbness on
one side of the body or face.
ξ Sudden falling or loss of balance that
is new for your child.
ξ Sudden change in speech or
understanding speech that is new for
ξ Sudden headache, crying with
complaints of head pain.
The signs of a stroke in a child can be hard
to pick out. Talk to your doctor or nurse
about your concerns.
What are the risks of stroke for children?
Many strokes in children are from unknown
causes. There are some body changes that
put some children at greater risk of stroke.
Most children who have a stroke have more
than one risk factor. If your child has sickle
cell anemia, lung problems, infections, heart
disease, problems with blood clotting, or
known problems with how their vessels are
formed, there is an increased risk of a stroke.
My child had a stroke. What now?
What to expect largely depends on the cause
of the stroke, the size of the damage, and the
type of stroke. Many children who survive
strokes may develop:
Problems with sensation
Problems of movement
Your child may develop long-term effects
Trouble with mood changes
Trouble with language and
After a stroke, your child’s needs may
change as he grows. Getting help early will
be very important in helping your child’s
progress. Your child’s doctor can tell you
how often your child will need to be seen.
You will need a plan to make certain your
child takes any pills that have been
prescribed. Your child will need help from
a speech, physical, or occupational therapist.
It is a comfort to many parents to know that
children can often regain much of their
A diagnosis of a stroke is scary
Pediatric strokes can be scary for the whole
family. Be sure to ask your doctor about
any questions you or your child may have
about your therapy and treatments. Your
health care team is there to help.
For further support
American Heart Association and
American Stroke Association
ROKEORG/ and search “pediatric
Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke
Kids Have Strokes:
Pediatric Stroke Network:
Amlie-Lefond, C., Bernard, T. J., Sébire, G., Friedman, N. R., Heyer, G. L., Lerner, N. B., deVeber, G., Fullerton,
H. J., & International Pediatric Stroke Study Group. (2009). Predictors of cerebral arteriopathy in children
with arterial ischemic stroke: Results of the international pediatric stroke study. Circulation, 119(10), 1417-
Bernard, T. J. & Goldenberg, N. A. (2010). Pediatric arterial ischemic strokes. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of
North America, 24(1), 167-180.
Lopez-Vicente, M., Ortega-Gutierrez, S., Amlie-Lefond, C., & Torbey, M. T. (2010). Diagnosis and management of
pediatric arterial ischemic stroke. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 19(3), 175-183.
Lynch, J. K., Hirtz, D. G., DeVeber, G., & Nelson, K. B. (2002). Report of the national institute of neurological
disorders and stroke workshop on perinatal and childhood stroke. Pediatrics, 109(1), 116-123.
Paediatric Stroke Working Group. (2004). Stroke in childhood: Clinical guidelines for diagnosis, management and
rehabilitation. Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved October 25, 2010 from
Riel-Romero, R. M. S., Kalra, A. A., & Gonzalez-Toledo, E. (2009). Childhood and teenage stroke. Neurological
Research, 31(8), 775-784.
Seidman, C., Kirkham, F., & Pavlakis, S. (2007). Pediatric stroke: Current developm
ents. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 19(6), 657-662.
Simma, B. & Lütschg, J. (2010). Epidemiology and etiology of pediatric stroke. Journal of Pediatric Neurology,
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have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7136