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Guidance to help health professionals recognise signs of stroke in children

Updated guidelines on how to recognise the signs of a stroke in a child have been published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Stroke Association.
Stroke

Updated guidelines on how to recognise the signs of a stroke in a child have been published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Stroke Association.

Around 400 children in the UK have a stroke each year, leaving many with severe physical and mental impairments.

However, better diagnosis, earlier treatment and effective rehabilitation can reduce the risk of long-term health problems.

Devastating

The revised public guidelines include for the first time information for clinicians on how to diagnose and manage strokes in children, as well as offering parents and young people advice.

RCPCH paediatric neurologist Vijeya Ganesan said: Although much less common than in adults, stroke is a devastating childhood illness, leaving permanent effects on most affected children.

Early recognition is important

Updated guidelines on how to recognise the signs of a stroke in a child have been published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Stroke Association.


Many children with stroke symptoms may have other serious neurological disorders. Picture: iStock

Around 400 children in the UK have a stroke each year, leaving many with severe physical and mental impairments.

However, better diagnosis, earlier treatment and effective rehabilitation can reduce the risk of long-term health problems.

Devastating

The revised public guidelines include for the first time information for clinicians on how to diagnose and manage strokes in children, as well as offering parents and young people advice.

RCPCH paediatric neurologist Vijeya Ganesan said: ‘Although much less common than in adults, stroke is a devastating childhood illness, leaving permanent effects on most affected children.

‘Early recognition is important to direct children towards rapid diagnosis and treatment. Many children with symptoms or signs that suggest stroke may have other serious neurological disorders and could also benefit from the changes in approach recommended by the guideline. The guideline also provides comprehensive information on how to best manage the long term needs of children, particularly rehabilitation.'

Children and adults share many of the same symptoms, but less commonly children can present with seizures or fits affecting one part of the body or experience sudden severe headache.

Non-specific signs of illness

Many children affected by stroke will have non-specific signs of illness, such as a struggling to stay awake and aware, or vomiting.

The clinical guideline also includes details of what tests should be performed and how prevent recurrences.

The entire rehabilitation pathway, from the initial period in hospital, through to going home and to school, plus important periods of childhood transition, are covered in the guidelines.

Further information can be found on the RCPCH website.


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