Common infections can raise risk of stroke in children

While infections are a common part of childhood, they may also put some children at risk of pediatric stroke, MedPage Today reported.

Researchers analyzed the Vascular Effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke (VIPS) study, a prospective study of 40 international centers that enroll patients under age 19 with ischemic stroke.

According to new research presented at the American Stroke Association meeting, 17 percent of pediatric patients who experienced an ischemic stroke reported having an infection in the previous week.

Being undervaccinated was also linked to a higher likelihood of stroke.

Researchers cautioned that, while minor infections are common, pediatric stroke remains rare.

"This is not something that parents need to worry about," author Nancy Hill, of the University of San Francisco, said at a press briefing. "It's just something that could be a risk factor for children who have some other more complicating risk factor, like cardiac disease."

Risk factors for pediatric, as well as adult, stroke, are not well understood, Dr. Philip Gorelick, medical director at Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences in Grand Rapids, Mich. and a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, told MedPage Today.

Gorelick said that sickle cell disease, congenital heart disease and a history of prior stroke all increase a child’s risk for stroke.

However, the takeaway from this research is that "parents need to be aware that some of the funny symptoms their children may be having could be stroke symptoms, especially if they've had a recent infection," and that "vaccination may be a key for preventing those strokes."

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