Colds and Flus Can Increase Stroke Risk for Children: Study

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Marji_021015_2According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, minor infections, such as colds and flu, may temporarily raise a child’s stroke risk.

The study consisted of 709 children under the age of 18 who took part in the Vascular Effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke Study. Out of these participants, 355 children experienced arterial ischemic stroke (AIS) and 354 children were free of strokes.

After assessing infection exposure and vaccine history through medical charts and interviews with parents, researchers came to a few conclusions. The team discovered that 18% of children with AIS experienced an infection a week before their stroke, while three percent of the stroke-free children experienced an infection the week before parental interviews were conducted. Upper respiratory infections (i.e. colds and flus) were the most common infections.

Children who experienced a stroke were six times more likely to have had an infection within the previous week, compared with children who didn’t have a stroke.

The stroke risk didn’t increase for children who contracted an infection one to six months previously. Researchers believe that minor infections will only increase the stroke risk in the short term.

Study author Dr. Heather J. Fullerton concludes, “If our results hold up in further studies, controlling infections like colds and flu through handwashing and vaccines may be a strategy for preventing stroke in children.”

Sources for Today’s Article:
Whiteman, H., “Colds, flu linked to increased stroke risk for children,” Medical News Today web site, October 1, 2015;

Fullerton, H.J., et al., “Infection, vaccination, and childhood arterial ischemic stroke,” Neurology September 30, 2015, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002065.