New guidelines on recognising and managing stroke in children have been launched by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Stroke Association to help prevent the potential damage that can occur if symptoms go unrecognised.
Every year around 400 children in the UK have a stroke, and many are left with severe physical and mental impairments.
The guidelines say that most children experiencing a stroke will have similar symptoms to adults—specifically, weakness of the face and on one side of the body and difficulty with speech. Less commonly, childhood strokes may present with seizures or fits affecting one part of the body or, rarely, a new onset sudden severe headache, the guidelines say, adding that many children will have non-specific signs of illness, such as a decrease in consciousness level or vomiting.
The guidelines also highlight a lack of evidence in terms of treating childhood stroke. In a foreword to the guidelines Tony Rudd, professor of stroke medicine at King’s College, London and national clinical director for stroke at NHS England, says that the first edition of the guideline was published 12 years ago and that one of its main findings was the lack of research into stroke in childhood.
Full document: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stroke Association. Stroke in childhood: clinical guideline for diagnosis, management and rehabilitation. May 2017.