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Objective: To characterize the risk factors for stroke in children and their relationship to outcomes.

Methods: We reviewed charts of children with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke seen at Hopital Sainte-Justine, Montreal between 1991 and 1997.

Results: We found 51 ischemic strokes: 46 arterial and 5 sinovenous thromboses. Risk factors were variable and multiple in 12 (24%) of the 51 ischemic strokes. Ischemic stroke recurred in 3 (8%) patients with a single or no identified risk factor and in 5 (42%) of 12 patients with multiple risk factors (p = 0.01). We also found 21 hemorrhagic strokes, 14 (67%) of which were caused by vascular abnormalities. No patient with hemorrhagic stroke had multiple risk factors. Hemorrhagic stroke recurred in two patients (10%). Outcome in all 72 stroke patients was as follows: asymptomatic, 36%; symptomatic epilepsy or persistent neurologic deficit, 45%; and death, 20%. Death occurred more frequently in patients with recurrent stroke (40%) than in those with nonrecurrent stroke (16%).

Conclusions: Multiple risk factors are found in many ischemic strokes and may predict stroke recurrence. Recurrent stroke tends to increase rate of mortality. Because of the high prevalence and importance of multiple risk factors, a complete investigation, including hematologic and metabolic studies and angiography, should be considered in every child with ischemic stroke, even when a cause is known.

(C) 2000 American Academy of Neurology