Pediatric Stroke Types, Causes, and Symptoms

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke?

Stroke signs and symptoms 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 Types of 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 Are the Causes of Strokes in Children?

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 cause stroke symptoms in a child.

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.