Stroke Types, Causes, and Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke?

Signs and symptoms of stroke in children include:

  • Difficulty talking
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Onset of lethargy or difficulty walking
  • Seizure
  • Sudden collapse
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Sudden loss of movement or weakness of face, arm or leg
  • Sudden onset of severe headache
  • Vomiting

What Are the Most Common Strokes in Children?

A stroke is a permanent brain injury caused either bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke) or lack of oxygen (ischemic stroke). Strokes can occur at any point in a person’s life. Strokes in childhood, including the newborn period, are being increasingly recognized today. Common types of pediatric strokes include:

  • Perinatal (newborn) stroke — Strokes in newborns are common and often go unnoticed and undiagnosed.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke — This stroke occurs when a blood vessel in or near the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain.
  • Ischemic stroke — An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is diminished, usually because of a clot, called a thrombus, in one of the blood vessels in the brain. There are two types of ischemic stroke that occur in children, especially newborns: sinovenous thrombosis and arterial ischemic stroke.
  • Sinovenous thrombosis stroke — This stroke occurs when there is a clot in one of the veins in the brain.
  • Arterial ischemic stroke — This stroke occurs when there is a clot in an artery in the brain.
  • Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) — CVT is a stroke that results from thrombosis (a blood clot) in the dural venous sinuses, which drain blood from the brain.

What Can Cause a Stroke?

The causes of many cases of stroke are hard to pinpoint. In some cases,cerebrovascular anomalies — conditions that are characterized by malformed blood vessels — can make a child susceptible to stroke.

Fundamental causes:

  • Genetic causes: sickle cell, clotting disorders, and other disorders 
  • Environmental causes: carbon monoxide poisoning, infection, medication, trauma, vasculitis, and dissection.
  • Congenital causes: arteriovenous malformation, aneurysm, Moyamoya syndrome, and other cerebrovascular anomalies.

Learn how Children's Hospital's Brain Care Institute treats children and infants with stroke.

Learn more about Child Neurology.