Introduction: While paediatric strokes are fairly uncommon, they are often associated with significant long-term disability. Diagnosis is often delayed because of the need to exclude conditions that mimic stroke. Understanding the outcomes related to stroke in children is important in the development of secondary prevention strategies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the epidemiology of childhood stroke in a tertiary paediatric unit in Singapore and to assess factors influencing outcome in these children. Materials and Methods: A retrospective case-note review of all childhood strokes presenting to the Children’s Medical Institute (CMI) at the National University Hospital (NUH), Singapore between October 1999 and May 2006. Data collected include demographic factors, clinical presentation, diagnosis, subsequent management and follow-up using specific outcome measures. Results: Twenty-six children with a median age of 8.0 years at presentation were identified, comprising 15 ischaemic strokes (57.7%), 10 haemorrhagic strokes (38.5%) and 1 patient with both ischaemic and haemorrhagic lesions. The most common symptoms at presentation were seizures (15/26, 57.7%), lethargy (11/26, 42.3%), hemiparesis (10/26, 38.5%) and altered levels of consciousness (10/26, 38.5%). Vascular abnormalities accounted for 50% of strokes in our study population. The average length of follow-up was 33.2 months (range, 1 to 120) with only 11 children (11/26, 42.3%) achieving full recovery. Significant prognostic factors include altered consciousness and seizures at presentation, lesions in both cortical and subcortical locations, systemic disease aetiology, neurological deficits at discharge and seizures at the time of discharge. Conclusion: Long-term neurological, neuropsychological and functional impairment are common in survivors of paediatric strokes. Certain clinical features and lesion characteristics are useful indicators of prognosis in these children.
Strokes in childhood are generally considered to be rare with an incidence of about 2.7 per 100 000 children per year.1 The aetiologies of stroke in children differ considerably from adults and multiple risk factors commonly co-exist. A large stroke registry in North America reported that a large proportion of children with arterial ischemic strokes had a recognised risk factor at presentation.2 Congenital cardiac disease, vasculopathies such as Moyamoya disease, collagen vascular diseases and inherited abnormalities of coagulation are commonly implicated in paediatric strokes. Evaluation of disease aetiology is essential in the management of these patients as it impacts upon stroke recurrence and long-term quality of life.
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