Children get stroke, although curable, even on the day of birth: Know more

Winter care tips for newborn babies.(Photo:IANSLIFE)
Stroke is preventable, but globally paediatric stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in children. Photo: IANS

Bengaluru: The lack of awareness when it comes to paediatric stroke is so low and people are often stunned to hear that children can get stroke. Actors like Amitabh Bachchan need to talk about it to create awareness, said Dr Nirmal Surya, president of the Indian Stroke Association (ISA) on Saturday. Speaking at a press conference after the inauguration of the second national paediatric stroke conclave, he said, "Stroke is preventable, but globally paediatric stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in children." The two-day conclave, organised by ISA, was inaugurated by Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman and founder of Narayana Health.

Situation worse in India
According to Dr Surya, lack of awareness is the biggest challenge that paediatric neurologists the world over have to overcome. "In India, the situation is even worse. When people are not made aware of the possibility of stroke in children, time is lost on misdiagnosis. Time is of the essence because stroke can often be treated with injection if the patient is brought within four and half hours," he added. Stroke can occur even on day one of the birth, reiterated Dr Minal V Kekatpure, paediatric neurologist at Narayana Health, Bengaluru and organising secretary of the conclave. According to her, paediatric stroke is more common among neonates than older children. "In one lakh, there are about 25 neonates' cases as against 12 involving older children," added Kekatpure. Dr Pratibha Singhi, president of the International Child Neurology Association, said often parents do not realise that their child is suffering from a stroke. "We have had instances where parents brought their child seeking remedy for not very good at writing' and on checking we found that the child had suffered a stroke and is unable to move the hand properly," added Singhi.

Lack of awareness
According to Dr K P Vinayan, Paediatric Neurology Sub Section Chair of the Indian Academy of Neurology, even adults suffering from stroke often miss the window of opportunity to treat and face the increased chances of disability, if not death, in India. "There is such a lack of awareness when it comes to stroke. This needs to be set right first," he added. Visiting expert from Bern, Dr Maja Steinlin, vice-president of the International Paediatric Stroke Organisation, also agreed with the Indian doctors about the absolute lack of awareness among the public. "Even in Western countries, awareness is a big problem," she said, adding that India is not lagging because it does not have qualified people to treat stroke, but because people are not availing of treatment on time.

One of the biggest reasons for organising the conclave is to bring about this awareness, said Dr Arvind Sharma, secretary of ISA."We try to get more people on board, tell paediatricians and even general practitioners to refer patients to stroke-ready hospitals if they show certain symptoms," added Dr Sharma. He also said there are about accredited 13 primary centres in India that are equipped to deal with stroke and about 30 stroke-ready but not accredited facilities. "We need about 1,000 accredited hospitals at least to deal with this disorder in India," added Sharma. According to Dr Vikram Huded, organising chairman of the conclave and interventional neurologist at Narayana Health, Bengaluru, even in adult stroke, only 1 per cent to 2 per cent of patients avail treatment on time, and the statistics get even worse for paediatric stroke. "Understanding of paediatric stroke has advanced a lot, so it is a pity that we are losing out because of lack of awareness," said Huded.

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