Arterial ischemic stroke in childhood: the role of plasma-phase risk factors

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The role of plasma-phase risk factors for stroke in the pediatric age group is presently unclear due to the lack of sufficiently large prospective studies, and due to the fact that these risk factors do not apply uniformly to newborns, children with sickle cell disease, and older children. Available evidence indicates that factor V Leiden, prothrombin 20210A, and lipoprotein (a) are all important in the pathogenesis of arterial ischemic stroke in older children, but the role of other plasma-phase risk factors remains uncertain. The contribution of these risk factors to newborn stroke and the stroke of children with sickle cell disease is similarly unclear, likely because the ischemia in affected children is predominantly due to nonhematologic perinatal events and erythrocyte adhesion to endothelium with obstruction of flow in the cerebral microcirculation, respectively. Evaluation of childhood stroke should, in our view, always be performed from the standpoint of the presenting clinical symptoms, diagnostic imaging, and determination of plasma-phase risk factors. Therapeutic anticoagulation and use of antiplatelet agents at present focus on the older child.

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