Home / News / World /  COVID can cause stroke among children too: Symptoms to watch for

COVID is known to cause severe heart issues among adults, but a recent study has revealed that it also increases the risk of stroke among children. The theory was established after reviewing the medical charts of 16 hospital patients, who suffered ischemic strokes between March 2020 and June 2021, i.e. soon after a sudden surge in COVID cases among children in the US between February and May 2021. 

The study has been published this week in the journal Pediatric Neurology. 

None of the 16 had been severely sick with the virus and some had been asymptomatic. Five patients were not tested for past COVID infection, a limitation of the study.

"It may be that hyper-immune response that comes later that's causing kids to clot," said MaryGlen J. Vielleux, a pediatric neurology resident at University of Utah Health and lead author of the study, and further added, "Overall, kids have a relatively low risk for stroke, but there is a rare but real risk after COVID." 

Since pediatric stroke is very rare, the recent findings are worrying. 

The study shows the overall number of strokes among kids during this timeframe was significantly higher than what had been seen historically at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. In the past 5 years, the number of children with strokes of uncertain origins had averaged around 4 per year. In the first six months of 2021, the hospital cared for 13 kids with a stroke of unknown origins.

The new study also showed that the risk of stroke is independent of whether or not the patient has Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a known complication of COVID.

Only three of the patients had confirmed cases of MIS-C. Of the 16 kids studied, most had few lingering impacts from their stroke by the time they left the hospital.

How to identify whether a child had a stroke?

The authors said the symptoms of stroke among children are not similar to what we see among adults. Children may have weakness on one side of the body but can often have an altered mental state or difficulty walking.

They further warned, even kids who were asymptomatic from COVID could go on to experience a serious complication like stroke


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