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Neonatal and Childhood Stroke Program

Contact number | 202-476-3611

Stroke in children is relatively rare, but can have a profound impact on a child’s development and health. Early intervention by a team specially trained in children’s unique needs can result in fewer complications and better outcomes.

At Children’s National Health System, infants and children with stroke related brain injury receive comprehensive care from an experienced interdisciplinary team that recognizes symptoms quickly and takes immediate action with advanced procedures and therapies. Our expert physicians, nurses and speech and physical therapists work together to help your child recover as quickly as possible – and keep you involved as an important part of our care team.

Neonatal and Childhood Stroke Care at Children’s National: Why Choose Us?

Children’s National is one of the few hospitals in the country with a specialized, multidisciplinary team of childhood stroke experts, and offers the only comprehensive pediatric program in the greater Washington, D.C. area. We are national leaders in the care of every kind of stroke that affects infants and children, including arterial ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes and cerebral sinovenous thrombosis, treating a large number of patients each year. Our neonatal critical care and neurology programs are ranked among the very best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, providing you with confidence that your child is receiving the highest quality care. 

What You Can Expect:

  • Rapid, comprehensive evaluations including advanced neuroimaging to quickly identify if and where a stroke has occurred
  • Access to therapies administered in the few hours following a stroke
  • Identification and correction of risk factors, to prevent additional strokes
  • Rehabilitation therapies for improved long-term outcome
  • Support for children and parents for dealing with the consequences of a stroke
  • A choice of stroke clinics for follow-up visits between the main hospital and our Montgomery County Outpatient Center, to make appointments easier for patients and families

Expert Stroke Care for Infants and Children

Although adults are most at risk for stroke, children of all ages — newborns, adolescents, and even unborn babies — can have strokes. Our team is experienced in the care of all stroke types including arterial ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes and cerebral sinovenous thrombosis. We have special interest in hyper-acute intervention, perinatal stroke and strokes that occur in children with sickle cell disease.

One of the most common causes of perinatal stroke (a stroke occurring before birth or within the first 28 days) is a blood clot traveling to an infant's brain around the time of birth. This can be caused by congenital heart disease, infections, bleeding or by a clot from the placenta. At Children’s National, we have a neonatal neurology team with extensive expertise in the diagnosis and care of infants with perinatal stroke. Recognizing the symptoms of stroke and initiating treatment quickly is critical to minimizing damage to the brain and having the best possible outcome.

In older children (ages 2 months to 14 years) we provide specialized care for a variety of conditions that cause both hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes including

  • Stroke associated with cardiac disease
  • Blood vessel disorders related to Sickle cell (Sickle cell vasculopathy)
  • Brain blood vessel disorders (including Moyamoya disease and Focal/Transient cerebral arteriopathy)
  • Tears to the artery wall or lining (arterial dissections)
  • Malformations of blood vessels in the brain or spinal cord (Arteriovenous malformations--AVM)

Treatments for these conditions are highly specialized and personalized for each of our young patients. Care may include medication, surgery and Neurointerventional therapies such as intra-arterial administration of pharmacologic agents. We have a dedicated team of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians available for both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative services for better long term outcomes.

Our Team

To provide your child with the best care possible, our board-certified team includes highly-skilled specialists in the following divisions:

In addition to our team, your child has access to physicians in more than 40 pediatric sub-specialties at Children’s National — the largest pediatric specialty presence in the Washington, D.C. region. We also recognize that rehabilitation care is a key component of post-stroke care and we have a dedicated team of PM&R experts available for both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative services.

Research and Clinical Trials

Our team is also dedicated to improving care and treatment for children who suffer from a stroke. We participate in the International Pediatric Stroke Study (IPSS), in the Cerebral Infarction Transfusion (SIT) trial and the HUG trial, a hydroxyurea trial aiming to prevent organ damage in children with sickle cell.

Our patients may be also eligible for clinical research protocols at a number of centers, including Children’s National and the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more about our active clinical trials by emailing us or by contacting our research coordinator, Katherine Sperberg via email or phone at 202-476-4660.

Neonatal and Childhood Stroke Program Team