Published: Friday 8 April 2016

Arterial ischaemic stroke (AIS) is estimated to affect 1.6 out of every 100,000 children a year in the UK.  It happens when the blood flow to the brain is blocked, which could be because an artery becomes too narrow or because a blood clot forms, blocking the supply of blood to a part of the brain. 

Published online (ahead of print in the journal Annals of Neurology), the results of a new study found that one year after AIS,  the rate of death, recurrence of stroke, and neurological impairment was lower in the population of children studied, when compared to reports in previous studies.

The study was led by Dr Finbar O'Callaghan  (Institute of Child Health, University College London) and funded by the Stroke Association.

In the study, the researchers identified 94 children with AIS in the Southern England region, and followed them-up one year after they had their AIS.  

Key findings from the study include:

  • 50% of the children having a poor outcome on follow-up, as compared to a previous UK study suggesting a comparable figure of 60% of children.  
  • 10% of children died one year after AIS, which is lower than the 15% figure reported in previous studies.
  • the 1% rate of recurrence of stroke, which is lower than the 15% -20% rates reported in most large studies.

Reasons which might explain some of these differences is a lack of 'selection bias' in the current study (meaning it may be a more accurate reflection of AIS in the UK, when compared to previous studies), improvements in treatment and care.

It also used a standardised tool to assess outcomes after AIS, called the PSOM (Paedatric Stroke Outcome Measure), which is gaining international, widespread acceptance. This means that the current findings may be compared to future similar studies in different countries and at different times, to collectively obtain a wider understanding of AIS and its impact.

Word from the Stroke Association?

This study is important as there is very little evidence showing what the outcomes are for children after AIS.  More robust evidence could inform trials into the condition that might lead to improved treatment for AIS, prevent further strokes after AIS, and enhance rehabilitation after AIS.

In collaboration with the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, the Stroke Association also runs the Childhood Stroke Project to support families affected by childhood stroke.

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