Children with Sickle Cell More Prone To Pediatric Strokes

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Children with Sickle Cell More Prone To Pediatric Strokes

Photo by Mike Chaput

Many people are aware that high blood pressure, age and a sedentary lifestyle in adults may increase their risk of stroke. However, few know that children also are at risk for experiencing a stroke, especially those with serious blood disorders. When children experience a stroke, the symptoms are the same as in adults. However, because childhood strokes are widely unexpected, symptoms often go unnoticed or are caught too late.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder where red blood cells become sickle shaped (crescent-shape), making it difficult to pass through small blood vessels. This disease blocks blood flow and can cause organ damage, chronic pain and other complications, such as stroke.

“It is important for families to understand sickle cell disease, so they can better support and care for their children” says Teddi Softley, Ph.D., Senior Psychologist, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. “Parents and community members need to understand that, having a stroke isn’t just an adult condition.”

Specializing in pediatric cancer and serious blood disorders, the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Miller Children’s has the only pediatric stroke program in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The multi-disciplinary pediatric stroke care team uses comprehensive preventative measures including screenings, regular blood transfusions, neuropsychology testing, MRI scans and imaging studies to help look for stroke warning signs. Additionally, they follow all patients at a higher risk for stroke including pediatric patients in the Sickle Cell (CSS) Center.

Recognizing stroke symptoms in children is crucial in first few hours for a better chance at recovery and future prevention. Some warning signs include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, in the face, arm or leg, slurred speech, severe headache, seizures, extreme fatigue and difficulty walking.

Miller Children’s is hosting a workshop for sickle cell disease education for parents of children and adolescents with sickle cell disease. The workshop, Saturday, Sept. 24, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., will feature medical experts from Miller Children’s, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California. Presentations will cover issues relating to sickle cell disease including cardiac and pulmonary issues, bone marrow transplantation, stroke, communication with a multidisciplinary team, pain management and transitioning into adult care. For more information about the workshop, please call (562) 933-8600.

About Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach:
Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach provides specialized pediatric care for children and young adults, with conditions ranging from common to complex – as well as maternity care for expectant mothers – all under one roof. Only five percent of all hospitals are children’s hospitals, making them unique not only to children’s health care needs in the community, but across the region. Miller Children’s is one of only eight free-standing children’s hospitals in California – treating more than 8,000 children each year – and has become a regional pediatric destination for more than 84,000 children, who need specialized care in the outpatient specialty and satellite centers. Miller Children’s is currently undertaking a major expansion project to expand the pediatric cancer center, neonatal intensive care unit and the MemorialCare Center for Women. Visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

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