Preventing Stroke in Kids: Good and Bad News
Reported April 14, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — The good news is more children with a condition that puts them at risk for stroke are undergoing ultrasound screening. The bad news is only a limited number of labs offer this test.
Researchers followed 157 children with sickle cell disease for about eight years. Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that increases the risk of stroke. In fact, about one in every 10 children with the disease suffers a stroke by age 20.
A previous study showed a more than 90-percent reduction in the rate of stroke in children with sickle cell disease who received a transcranial doppler ultrasound (TCD) screening and were identified as being at high risk. These children could then have blood transfusion therapy. Guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology recommend TCD screening of children with sickle cell disease beginning at age 2.
The current study found the rate of ultrasound screening among children with sickle cell disease increased six-fold while the annual stroke rate dropped more than half. However, researchers found children who lived further away from a vascular lab were less likely to be screened.
“Stroke in children with sickle cell disease should be a largely preventable disease; however, not all children at risk are getting screened,” Heather J. Fullerton, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, was quoted as saying. “Limited access to labs that perform TCD screening, even among kids with comprehensive health insurance, appears to be a barrier to helping these kids reduce their high risk of stroke. Increased availability of these screening labs may help prevent stroke in these high risk kids.”
SOURCE: Neurology, April 14, 2009