By: on In Strokes News

Link Found Between Children’s Headaches & Stroke


If you have children than the sooner you accept that they will fall, scrape their knees, get dirty, and ultimately get sick to some degree; the better off you will be. However, in knowing this, it certainly isn’t an excuse to not be diligent and aware of potential dangers and where they lurk. For through new discoveries, we are finding connections between the typically “typical” and the serious.

Children get headaches, we all do, but a new study suggests that parents should think twice before dismissing a headache as just that, for a new study shows that migraines may be a precursor to a stroke in children.

Thanks in part to public awareness and advocacy, most people are familiar with the term stroke and are aware of the long-term damage it can cause. A stroke, by definition, is when the blood supply to parts of the brain is blocked or reduced. This can lead to the death of brain cells and the subsequent physical impairment.

A simple way to look at it is a “brain attack.”

However, new research suggests that children are much more likely to experience a headache before an ischaemic stroke. An ischaemic stroke is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain.

Strokes do happen in children, and according to Jo Wilmhurst, head of pediatric neurology at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital they see many children with stroke and “it isn’t a rare complication.”

“Stroke should be considered as a possible diagnosis in any child with a headache,” study author Dr. Lori Billinghurst said in an American Stroke Association news release. Dr. Billinghurst added that symptoms of a child stroke include: weakness or numbness of the face; numbness in the arms or legs; changes in walking; difficulty speaking or changes in speech; and blurred or askew vision.

“Urgent brain imaging may be required to distinguish a migraine with aura from a stroke,” Billinghurst added. She is a clinical assistant professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“It is possible that younger brains have blood vessels that are more easily distended and more likely to activate pain sensors that trigger a headache,” Billinghurst suggested. “It is also possible that inflammation – a powerful activator of pain sensors – may be more important in the processes underlying stroke in children than in adults,” she said.

As adults, and especially as parents, we all know that children are at increased and unique risk of many conditions and ailments. However, as adults, it is often up to us to ensure that their best interests are always cared for and that every precaution to ensure their health and well-being is addressed.