Pediatric Stroke Program

If your child experiences a stroke, specialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles can help. We regularly care for babies and children who have had strokes.

Our experts come together quickly to deliver services that maximize developmental and neurological outcomes. In addition to emergency stroke treatment, we also provide extensive follow-up care.

What Is Pediatric Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a child experiences either bleeding in the brain or blocked blood flow to the brain.

Stroke symptoms in children may be more subtle than in adults. This is why it is essential to receive care from an experienced program, such as the one at Children’s Hospital. Immediate treatment from our pediatric stroke specialists can help minimize long-term effects and brain damage.

Pediatric Stroke Program: Why Choose Us

Our neurocritical care specialists are among only a handful of doctors in the country with advanced (fellowship) training in neurocritical care, pediatric stroke and neonatal neurology. This specialized expertise means your child has access to the best available stroke services.

At Children’s Hospital, your child benefits from:

  • Early diagnosis: We are experienced in identifying children with stroke symptoms and using advanced imaging technologies to quickly and accurately diagnose stroke in children.
  • Timely treatment: Medical treatments that work quickly to halt the effects of stroke may be right for your child. We use tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug that breaks up blood clots in the brain. When delivered in a timely manner, tPA reduces a child’s risk of brain damage.
  • Coordination: Pediatric stroke experts collaborate with other Children’s Hospital specialists to ensure your child receives all necessary services. For example, a child may need neurosurgery or interventional radiology (looking at blood vessels in the brain) as part of stroke evaluation and treatment. 
  • On-site rehabilitation services: If children have trouble with speech or movement after a stroke, they may recover in our Inpatient Rehabilitation Center. This on-site service allows your child to undergo rehabilitation in a comfortable environment under the care of friendly, compassionate experts.
  • Follow-up services: Our team provides robust follow-up care to help your child after a stroke. Services include clinical evaluations, follow-up neuroimaging, medication monitoring and outpatient rehabilitative therapies.

More Information About Pediatric Stroke

Children may experience two types of stroke:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a ruptured blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain.
  • Ischemic stroke occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to a part of the brain.

Conditions that may cause stroke in children include:

  • Clotting and bleeding disorders
  • Cerebrovascular malformations
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Inflammation including infections or rheumatologic disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Abnormalities of the blood vessels of the brain
  • Genetic conditions

Acute stroke symptoms

In children and teenagers, the most common stroke symptoms may include the sudden onset of weakness or seizures affecting one side of the body.

Other stroke symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Numbness
  • Severe headache, often with vomiting or sleepiness
  • Speech problems or difficulty understanding language
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision

In newborns, stroke may present as early seizures. In infants, they can develop seizures, early hand preference, or a tendency to use one side of the body more than the other.

If you notice any stroke symptoms in your child or infant, call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department immediately.

Multidisciplinary Stroke Care 

At Children’s Hospital, a team of experts comes together within minutes to care for children with stroke symptoms.

This team includes specialists in: 

Follow-up care after a stroke may also involve the expertise of:

Expert Neurocritical Care

Our neurocritical care specialists have unique training in adult and pediatric stroke, as well as neonatal neurology. This expertise means patients at Children’s Hospital receive the most advanced, targeted treatments. Learn more about our Neurocritical Care Service.