UK & World News
Doctors Warned Over Child Stroke Victims
Some doctors and nurses are not recognising the signs of a stroke in children, an expert has warned.
Most people associate strokes with the older generation, but it is actually one of the UK's top 10 causes of child deaths.
It is thought around 445 youngsters aged 17 and under have one every year.
Dr Vijeya Ganesan, a senior lecturer in paediatric neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, wants healthcare staff to get better at spotting the condition.
"In my experience ... often parents will go to casualty and say to doctors 'I think my child might have had a stroke' and in fact be dismissed.
"What I would like to see is improved recognition and improved acknowledgment on the part of healthcare professionals."
One study found a third of children who went to hospital, paralysed down one side of their body - a key symptom - were not given a brain scan within 24 hours.
The signs of a stroke are similar in both children and adults, but Dr Ganesan said the causes are different.
"About half the children will already have some other healthcare condition, such as sickle cell anaemia or congenital heart problems but the other half of children are otherwise completely healthy."
Two years ago, when Charlotte Neve was just seven, she had a brain haemorrhage in her sleep which went on to trigger a series of strokes.
She was left unable to speak, move or even blink.
Her mother, Leila Neve, had not known that children could have strokes.
"My legs gave way ... I remember looking and saying, 'But she's seven ... she's not a 60 (or) 70-year-old smoker who just sits and eats takeaways all the time'."
She said doctors told her Charlotte would never recognise her again.
Since then, her daughter has made a great recovery, but like half of children who survive a stroke, Charlotte has been left with lasting effects.
She has learning difficulties and has not regained most of her sight.
The family did not know Charlotte had lost her eyesight until fairly recently because she could not communicate it.
Ms Neve wants to see services for child stroke victims improved.
"If your child is sleepy or headachy or isn't communicating well or isn't moving around very well - go and get it checked," she said.
In a message to other youngsters who have also suffered a brain injury, Charlotte, who is now nine, added: "Just don't be scared. It'll be over soon."
The charities Different Strokes and the Stroke Association provide more information about the condition, which affects all age groups.
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