Signs and Symptoms

There are two main types of strokes:

  • Ischemic Stroke — With ischemic stroke, the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked. This prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells. Within a few minutes, these cells begin to die.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke — With hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel within the brain leaks or ruptures. This is called an intracerebral hemorrhage. When this happens, blood moving into brain tissue near the hemorrhage damages cells. In children, a malformation of the blood vessels in the brain, called an arteriovenous malformation, is a common cause of intracerebral hemorrhage. In a subarachnoid hemorrhage, blood leaks under the lining of the brain. This is often caused by a small bubble on an artery known as an aneurysm.

Each child may experience symptoms of stroke differently, depending on the area of their brain that has been affected.

The most common symptom is a weakness along one side of the body. This may be difficult to recognize in children who may be too young to verbalize how they feel. A child's face may droop on one side and his or her speech may be affected. Other common symptoms may include:

  • Blurred or double vision or unequal pupils
  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Sudden onset of difficulty speaking, such as slurred or garbled speech
  • Sudden onset of partial or complete blindness
  • Sudden, severe headache

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Pediatric Brain Center

Stroke & Cerebrovascular Disease Center
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-7596
Fax: (415) 353-2400
Appointment information

Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202

Patient Experiences