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Pediatric stroke among Hong Kong Chinese subjects.

Pediatrics 2004 August
BACKGROUND: The incidence of pediatric stroke was estimated to be 2.5 to 2.7 cases per 100,000 children per year in North America and 13 cases per 100,000 children per year in France. Stroke is among the top 10 causes of death among children in the United States, with the highest incidence in the first 1 year of life. The annual mortality rate was 0.34 deaths per 100,000 person-years, with an average of 244 deaths per year. Interethnic differences have been demonstrated to be important in pediatric stroke. However, most population-based studies on pediatric stroke were from Europe or North America, and there was a lack of data on the incidence of stroke among Chinese or Asian children. Whether the etiologic patterns and risk factors for death and morbidity among Chinese children with stroke were similar to those described for other ethnic groups was unknown.

OBJECTIVES: To calculate the incidence of stroke among Chinese children in Hong Kong and to examine the clinical spectrum, causes, patterns, risk factors, and outcomes of pediatric stroke among Chinese subjects.

METHODS: The population of Hong Kong was 6.7 million in 2001, and >98% of our population is Chinese in origin. In Hong Kong, public hospitals under the Hospital Authority provide >95% of the hospital service for the region. We identified children (>1 month to <15 years of age) who were admitted and given a discharge diagnosis of stroke from the Clinical Data Analysis and Reporting System, which is a centralized computerized database for all public hospitals. The discharge coding of stroke used codes from the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification. Only first admissions during the study period were included. We excluded any subsequent admissions by using multiple demographic characteristics of the patients. The incidence of pediatric stroke was estimated as the number of first hospitalizations divided by the person-years at risk. Since 1991, we had been collecting a database on pediatric stroke (ages of 1 month to 16 years) from a single center (the university-affiliated pediatric unit). The clinical presentation, causes, risk factors, and outcomes for those in the Hong Kong Children's Stroke Registry with follow-up data for > or =2 years were analyzed. Data on outcomes, in terms of survival and neurologic deficits, were studied. For survivors, neurologic deficits were defined as short-term if they resolved within 3 months and long-term if they persisted for >3 months. The severity of deficits was defined as mild when function was minimally affected and the patient remained independent in activities of daily living, moderate when the patient required supervision or partial assistance in activities of daily living or when the deficit caused delay in developmental milestones, and severe when the patient required total or near-total care in activities of daily living. Potential risk factors for death and poor neurologic outcomes, including gender, age at the time of stroke, clinical presentation, causes, and neuroimaging findings, were analyzed.

RESULTS: Using projections from census data in 2001, the number of children <15 years of age in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2001 was estimated to be 1,104100 to 1,158800, resulting in 4,545300 person-years. During the same period, 94 children with discharge coding of stroke were identified. Therefore, the estimated incidence of pediatric stroke between 1998 and 2001 was 2.1 cases per 100,000 children-years. The average number of new cases treated annually was 4.5 (0-15 cases/year). Fifty children (28 boys and 22 girls; male/female ratio: 1.27:1) were identified in the 11-year period. The mean age at presentation was 5.6 +/- 4.9 years. Thirty-six strokes (72%) were ischemic and 14 (28%) were hemorrhagic. Despite evaluation for possible underlying causes, 12% (6 cases) remained idiopathic. Eighteen patients with ischemic strokes had cerebral thrombosis, whereas 15 had cerebral embolism. We did not observe any case of sinovenous thrombosis. The 36 cases of ischemic stroke were subtyped according to vascular territories. Eleven cases had infarction involving the middle cerebral artery territory; 2 were limited to the cortical region, 3 were limited to subcortical structures such as the basal ganglia or internal capsule or both, and 6 had complete middle cerebral artery involvement, with cortical and subcortical stroke. Involvement of the anterior cerebral artery occurred in 2 cases, with involvement of cerebellar/basilar artery territories in another 2 cases. The remaining 15 cases had multiple sites of infarction. Three patients experienced secondary hemorrhagic transformation after the initial thrombotic event. Of the 14 patients with hemorrhagic strokes, only 1 had subarachnoid hemorrhage. All others had intracerebral bleeding, at single (N = 9) or multiple (N = 4) loci. Important causes included complications related to congenital heart diseases (N = 15, 30%), vascular diseases (N = 13, 26%), and hematologic diseases (N = 14, 28%). Six cases had no determined causes. One case involved mitochondrial encephalopathy with lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes and constituted the only case with a metabolic cause. For the 7 patients for whom prothrombotic screening was performed, findings were negative. Seizures (52%) and hemiplegia (34%) were the most common presenting features. Other presenting clinical features included headaches (22%), decreased consciousness (30%), visual field defects (12%), dysphasia (10%), and lethargy (8%). Only 1 patient, with moyamoya disease, had a family history of stroke. The median follow-up time was 8.7 years (range: 2-12.4 years). Nine patients (18%) died, 5 with ischemic stroke and 4 with hemorrhagic stroke. Among the 5 cases of death with ischemic stroke, 3 involved hemorrhagic transformation before death. Seven patients (77%) died within 31 days (range: 2-31 days), whereas the other 2 died 6 months and 2.5 years after the episode. Recurrence occurred in 5 cases (10%). Long-term neurologic deficits occurred among 41% of survivors, including mental retardation (N = 11), epilepsy (N = 7), and hemiplegia (N = 10). The functional deficits were classified as severe in 7 cases, moderate in 3 cases, and mild in 7 cases, for patients with long-term neurologic deficits. Decreased levels of consciousness, hematologic causes, and hemorrhagic transformation (applicable only in ischemic stroke) were significant risk factors associated with high mortality rates. For the 41 patients who survived, the only significant risk factor for long-term neurologic deficits was seizures at the initial presentation. Other factors, such as gender, age, other clinical features, stroke type, vascular territory, other causes, and recurrence of stroke, were all insignificant for both death and long-term deficits. The 3 risk factors identified for death were analyzed in multivariate logistic regression analyses, with adjustment for the confounding variables, and only decreased levels of consciousness remained significant (odds ratio = 15.6).

CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of stroke among Chinese children was slightly lower than that in Europe or North America. The etiologic pattern was different in our cohort, and there was no sickle cell anemia, thrombophilia, or sinovenous thrombosis. Despite these differences, however, mortality and long-term neurologic deficit rates were similar.

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