Study: Doctors missing strokes
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:01 pm
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Doctors may be missing “silent strokes” in a small but significant number of children with severe anemia, who may be unfairly labeled as slow learners when in fact they have a medical problem, troubling new research suggests.
Strokes have long been known to be a risk for kids with sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disease that affects 70,000 to 100,000 Americans, mostly blacks. The new study finds that strokes are more common than has been believed in these children.
More surprisingly, the study found that strokes also were occurring undetected in children who do not have sickle cell but have other conditions that can cause anemia, such as cancer, kidney failure or blood loss from trauma such as a car crash.
Some of them have what researchers described as the brains of 80-year-olds when they were only 5 or 10.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to panic,” but doctors need to consider the possibility of stroke when treating any child with severe anemia, said Dr. Michael Dowling, a pediatric neurologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The study involved only 52 children at one hospital, but experts in the field believe the findings have wide relevance. At the study hospital alone, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, 1 percent of all admissions, or about 400 children over 2 1/2 years, were for severe anemia, said Dowling, who led the research.
He presented results Friday at an American Stroke Association conference.
Published in The Messenger 2.16.11