Neonatal Stroke

Neonatal stroke is a rare but serious condition that can devastate an infant's life. A stroke in the early stages of life can cause long-term physical and cognitive difficulties and emotional challenges.

In some cases, a neonatal stroke can be fatal. Parents need to be educated on the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this condition to ensure they are best equipped to care for their infant if they are affected by it.

What are the different types of neonatal strokes?

There are three main types of neonatal stroke: thrombotic stroke, arterial ischemic stroke (AIS), and hemorrhagic stroke. Thrombotic strokes are caused by a blood clot blocking an artery or vein in the baby's brain. AIS occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the baby's brain due to a narrowing or blockage in an artery. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is bleeding in the brain, usually due to a rupture of an artery or vein.

What causes a neonatal stroke?

A neonatal stroke is caused by a disruption of the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to several factors, including an intrauterine infection, complications during delivery, congenital heart defects, and haemorrhage. In some cases, neonatal stroke can also be caused by genetic abnormalities or medical conditions such as sickle cell anaemia. Pregnant women need to seek regular antenatal care to reduce the risk of neonatal stroke.

What are the symptoms of neonatal stroke?

Neonatal stroke can cause symptoms such as seizures, changes in muscle tone (weakness or stiffness), difficulty breathing, difficulty feeding, lethargy or decreased alertness, and irritability. Other signs to look out for include an arm or leg that is limp, facial drooping, and an inability to move one side of the body. Additionally, the baby may have difficulties with sucking and swallowing, changes in vision and hearing, problems with balance and coordination, and developmental delays. Medical advice should be sought immediately if any of these symptoms are seen in a newborn infant.

What are the treatment options available for neonatal stroke?

Treatment options for neonatal stroke depend on the stroke's severity and the baby's age. Milder strokes may require monitoring, physical therapy, and medication to help manage any associated conditions. Severe strokes may need more intensive care, such as surgery to repair damaged vessels or reduce swelling.

Long-term treatment may include specialist therapies such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy to help the development of affected areas. In addition, parents should be aware of any risks from medications used to treat neonatal stroke, such as seizures or side effects that could affect vision or hearing.

What are the risk factors for neonatal stroke?

The main risk factors for neonatal stroke include congenital heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities, blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Infections such as meningitis or septicaemia can also increase the risk of a stroke in a newborn.

Additionally, placental insufficiency, maternal conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and complications of the umbilical cord may also contribute to the risk of a neonatal stroke.

How can one prevent neonatal stroke?

Preventing neonatal stroke is not always possible, as some risk factors are out of a parent's control. However, some steps can be taken to reduce the risk. These include: attending regular antenatal appointments; avoiding smoking during pregnancy; being aware of any family history of clotting issues or bleeding disorders; and maintaining healthy blood pressure levels throughout pregnancy. Additionally, ensuring your baby gets all their recommended vaccinations will help protect them against certain infections, which can increase the risk of neonatal stroke.


Neonatal stroke is a serious condition that can impact a child’s development and health. To diagnose the condition, doctors use advanced imaging techniques such as ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans to detect any signs of brain damage.

Early detection of neonatal stroke is crucial for effective treatment and minimizing its long-term effects. Neonatal stroke requires careful monitoring and prompt medical attention to increase the chances of a positive outcome for babies affected by this condition.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Can a newborn recover from a stroke?

Yes, a newborn can recover from a stroke. With early diagnosis and treatment, the effects of neonatal stroke can be minimized, and babies can fully recover.

2. What is the prognosis for newborns with stroke?

The prognosis of neonatal stroke depends on the severity and location of the damage. Prompt medical attention and treatment can increase the chances of a full recovery, while late diagnosis and treatment can lead to long-term effects such as physical disabilities or cognitive deficits.

3. What are the long-term effects of a stroke at birth?

The long-term effects of neonatal stroke depend on the severity and location of the damage. Possible effects may include physical disabilities, cognitive delay, language problems, seizures, vision or hearing impairment, behavioural issues, and more.

4. Can a stroke cause a baby to have developmental delays?

Yes, if stroke damage is severe and occurs in critical brain areas that control motor, language, or cognitive functions, your child may experience developmental delays. Early intervention and therapy can help reduce the severity of these effects.

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