The most common diseases among children that were known until now were chickenpox, ear infections, colds, etc. However, very recently, researchers and neurologists have found that stroke is also among one of the most common ailments in newborns that often go unnoticed. A National Hospital's database analysis by Dr. Donna Ferriero, Chief of Neurology at the University of California showed that four in 1000 newborns had a stroke.
Dr. Donna said that many parents and neurologists are not aware of the risk of strokes in the very young. This results in the strokes being diagnosed late or not diagnosed at all. There is also very less knowledge about prevention of strokes and very few accepted treatments for stroke in the very young. Dr.Deborah Hirtz, a Pediatric Neurologist stated that strokes are harder to spot in the very young because they lack muscle coordination anyway, though the symptoms of stroke in adults and children are similar. She suggested that an MRI could assess the level of brain damage and confirm a stroke. Dr. Ferriero said that when a child favours one side of the body, like holding the bottle with one hand very often, then it is time for the parents to bring in the child for an MRI.
Ferriero and her colleagues who reviewed medical records of 30 pairs of mothers and babies who had a stroke, say that the causes of a stroke in infancy is largely unknown and that the factors could be as varied as infections, birth defects, blood-clotting disorders and birth trauma. Researchers claim that if risk factors of stroke in infants is identified, it would help in tackling the same problem in adults. They added that strokes in infants are a common cause of cerebral palsy, and that nearly 6 percent of children who have a stroke die, while about 25 percent of children have another stroke and about two-thirds have lasting neurological problems or seizures. However, an early diagnosis of stroke in the very young could help manage it effectively as children's brain are very plastic, which means they have a great capacity to learn to compensate for the damage.