Over the last few years, the importance of paediatric stroke has become more and more evident; however, there is still little known about long-term neurological and especially neuropsychological outcome of these children. By retrospective chart review, questionnaire and clinical examination with structured interview, we analysed initial presentation, aetiology and long-term outcome of children suffering ischaemic childhood stroke between 1985 and 1999. A total of 20 children (13 boys) suffered acute arterial ischaemic events. Aetiology was detected in 14, and suspected in another five. Follow-up after 1-15 years (mean 7 years) was possible for 16 children; two had died and two were lost to follow-up. Only two were completely healthy, five suffered mild, six moderate, and three severe handicap. Eleven children presented with combined neurological and neuropsychological problems. Neurological problems were mild to moderate hemisyndrome in 11, dysphasia, epilepsy and other in six each. Mild to severe neuropsychological problems were detected in 13 children, school problems in eight, attention deficits in nine and behaviour problems in seven, increased fatigability and headache in six each. Recurrence was observed in three children, all due to progressive underlying disease. Outcome was most affected by the presence of combined cortical/subcortical and least affected by subcortical infarction. Epilepsy affected neuropsychological outcome.
Conclusion: although prognosis of paediatric stroke is better than for adult stroke, neurological and especially neuropsychological long-term problems significantly influence the lives of these children. Careful long-term follow-up to support these children in their school career and integration into professional life is necessary. Future studies should evaluate whether specific treatments during the acute episode could improve outcome for these children.