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Pediatric Strokes: Often Misdiagnosed With Serious Consequences

Like many Americans, Florida parents are probably not inclined to associate the risk of stroke with young children and teenagers. Although many doctors and other medical professionals often make the same mistake, this is actually far from the truth. Pediatric strokes affect around 3,000 children every year. This statistic ranks stroke as one of the top 10 most common causes of death for American children.

Despite this frequency, doctors and nurses often miss the warning signs of a stroke and jump to dangerous treatment conclusions. This is even more surprising given the medical profession's wide awareness with the consequences of delayed treatment for stroke victims. All doctors should be prepared to spot and respond immediately to stroke symptoms. Instead, the average diagnosis delay in a pediatric stroke case is 28 hours.

When a stroke diagnosis is delayed this much, it might be more accurate to describe is as a failed diagnosis. In many cases, it is too late to provide effective treatment.

Children are at the most risk of suffering a pediatric stroke shortly before and after birth. Experts estimate that nearly half of all pediatric strokes occur during the first year of life. A baby's first week outside of the womb presents a higher stroke risk than any other point in life. Older children, especially teenagers, can also suffer strokes after a sports injury. Concussions or other head traumas are especially dangerous.

When a stroke does occur, it is crucially important for a doctor to begin appropriate treatment immediately. If doctors or hospital staff members ignore indications of a stroke, a failure to diagnose may be medical malpractice.

Source: ABC News, "Pediatric Stroke Often Misdiagnosed, Treatment Delayed," Susan Donaldson James, Feb. 11, 2013

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