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Parents need to act fast to help child stroke victims, researchers say

February 26, 2014

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Melbourne, Australia – When a child exhibits stroke signs, parents may delay calling 911, meaning the child has less time to receive treatment that could help prevent permanent damage, according to a new study from the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Researchers spoke with 28 parents whose child had a stroke, and found the length of time between symptoms appearing and the child going to the emergency department varied from 1.8 hours to 24 hours. Although approximately half of parents called 911, more than one-third thought a stroke might be happening and 21 percent took a wait-and-see approach, in some cases calling a relative, a press release states.

Children have the same stroke signs and symptoms as adults, including sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg; difficulty speaking, seeing or walking; and dizziness.

“Getting to the hospital quickly is an essential first step to develop strategies to improve access to emergency treatment in children,” lead researcher Mark MacKay said in the press release.

One out of 10 kids who have a stroke will have another one within five years, according to the American Heart Association. Researchers said stroke risk is higher for kids with sickle cell disease or heart conditions.

The study was presented Feb. 12 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.