Colds, Flu May Increase Stroke Risk in Children

Pharmacy Times, November 2015 Cough, Cold, & Flu, Volume 81, Issue 11

Although children rarely experience a stroke, the results of a recent study suggest that colds, flu, and minor infections may lead to a temporary increase in stroke risk among kids.

Although children rarely experience a stroke, the results of a recent study suggest that colds, flu, and minor infections may lead to a temporary increase in stroke risk among kids. The study, published in Neurology, analyzed data on 355 children younger than 18 years who were diagnosed with a stroke, as well as 354 stroke-free children of similar ages. The research team found that 18% of the children who experience a stroke had a cold or other infection the week prior to the stroke compared with 3% of those who did not have a stroke. Additionally, this elevated risk was found to be temporary, as an increased likelihood of experiencing a stroke was only associated with infections contracted in the previous week.

The researchers also determined that the risk of stroke in children may be reduced by routine childhood vaccinations. Their findings revealed that children who had received some, few, or none of their routine vaccinations were 7 times more likely to have a stroke than those who received most or all of their vaccinations. Additionally, 8% of the children who had strokes were poorly vaccinated, compared with 1% of those who did not have strokes.

“If our results hold up in further studies, controlling infections like colds and flu through hand-washing and vaccines may be a strategy for preventing stroke in children,” said study author Heather J. Fullerton, MD, MAS, with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.