Quick action vital for strokes in children

Parents and healthcare professionals need to be aware that children can have strokes and should be prepared to respond quickly, Dr Mark Mackay says.

His team at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne has done research that shows many parents of stroke victims do not immediately dial triple zero, even though they think the symptoms are serious.

Although no accurate statistics are kept, there are 150 to 600 childhood strokes in Australia a year.

Dr Mackay's team interviewed 28 parents, finding only half called triple zero, most did not consider the possibility of a stroke and a third decided to "wait and see" or called a relative before taking emergency action.

The median time from symptom onset to arrival at the emergency department was 1.2 hours, and some took as long as 24 hours.

But victims must receive treatment within four-and-a-half hours, he says.

The warning signs of strokes in children are the