Stroke occurs very rarely in children. However, according to a new study published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, children who get colds, the flu or other minor infections are temporarily more prone to having a stroke. The researchers also observed that regular childhood vaccinations could decrease this risk of stroke cause by flu in children.

Study: Evaluating Likelihood Of Stroke During Infections

Despite evidence, José Biller, MD, from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago reassures parents not to worry too much, since the overall risk of having a stroke is still particularly low. He explained that possible bodily changes, as a consequence of the dehydration and inflammation caused by infections, could make a child temporarily more susceptible to having a stroke. Parents should simply be careful, and not extremely alarmed regarding fever and flu In children.

For this study, researchers interviewed parents and went through the medical records of 355 children below the age of 18 who had been diagnosed with having a stroke, along with 354 children of the same ages but without a history of stroke. They looked into exposure to infection and vaccine history.

Looking At Results: Flu In Children

Out of all the participants, 18 percent had had a stroke just after a week of infection, and 3 percent of the children without a history of stroke developed an infection a week prior to the interview. It was observed that the children who had had a stroke were six times more likely to have had an infection previously as compared to those who hadn’t had a stroke.

More importantly, the likelihood of having a stroke increased only if the infection had occurred a week earlier. This highlights the fact that the association between stroke and infection is short-lived.

In the case of vaccinations, children who were poorly vaccinated – having received some, none or few regular vaccinations – had a seven times higher risk of having a stroke after an infection. Data showed that eight percent of the children diagnosed with strokes had been poorly vaccinated.

Flu In Children: Sicker Than You Thought

“If these results hold up in future studies, controlling infections such as colds and the flu via hand-washing and vaccinations could be a potential strategy for preventing stroke as well”, explained study author Heather J. Fullerton, MD, MAS, with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

This study also corroborates an earlier research which included a larger sample, wider geographic coverage, central brain imaging and prospective enrollment.