(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