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Childhood stroke

Stroke can happen at any age.

Childhood stroke occurs in a child aged from one month to eighteen years old. Between 300 and 500 children will have a stroke each year in Australia.


What is a stroke?

A stroke is when blood can’t get to all parts of the brain.

Blood is carried through the body and the brain by blood vessels – the arteries and veins.

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients for the brain cells. If the blood supply stops, the brain cells start dying. If the blood supply does not return, the affected part of the brain will be injured.

How does stroke affect children?

The effects of stroke are different for every child.

A child’s brain controls everything they think, feel, say and do. How the stroke affects them depends on the area of their brain that was injured and how badly.

Recovery is usually most rapid in the weeks to months after the stroke, but recovery can continue for years. Starting rehabilitation early increases a child’s chances of a good recovery.

Stroke signs in babies and children

If you notice any of these signs, call triple zero (000) immediately.

Babies:

  • Seizures 
  • Extreme sleepiness 

Toddlers, children and teenagers:

  • Weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side. 
  • Difficulty talking, understanding, reading or writing. 
  • Trouble seeing or loss of vision. 
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or poor coordination. 
  • Severe or unusual headaches, nausea or vomiting. 
  • Difficulty swallowing, including drooling. 
  • Seizures with weakness that doesn’t improve. 
  • Changes in behaviour and difficulty concentrating. 
  • Stroke can sometimes cause children to collapse. 

 

More information and support

Childhood stroke stories