ASA: Acute Herpes Exposure Linked to Pediatric Stroke

Second study shows few caregivers consider stroke when child has neurological symptoms

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Herpes exposure is a significant predictor for pediatric arterial ischemic stroke, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's International Stroke Conference, held from Feb. 12 to 14 in San Diego. In a second study presented at the conference, researchers found that few caregivers consider the possibility of stroke with onset of neurological symptoms among children.

Heather J. Fullerton, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used data from the Vascular effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke study to examine the correlation between recent infection with herpes viruses and childhood arterial ischemic stroke. The study included 141 children with arterial ischemic stroke and 44 unmatched trauma controls. The researchers found that in 41 percent of cases and 9 percent of controls there was evidence of acute herpes infection (P < 0.0001), with herpes simplex virus 1 most commonly identified. Herpes exposure remained a significant predictor of arterial ischemic stroke (odds ratio, 9.0) after adjustment for age.

Mark T. MacKay, M.D., from the Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues conducted a structured interview among parents of 28 children with pediatric arterial ischemic stroke. The researchers found that 89 percent of parents thought symptoms were serious but only 36 percent considered the possibility of a stroke. Thirty-six percent of caregivers called 911 as an initial action, and 25 percent transported patients to the emergency room. The median time from onset to arrival in the emergency room was 1.8 hours.

"Getting to the hospital quickly is an essential first step to develop strategies to improve access to emergency treatment in children," MacKay said in a statement.

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