Transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke afflict millions of adults each year. In response, neurologists have conducted many clinical and basic science studies addressing the subject of cerebrovascular disease in adults. Children likewise suffer frequently from TIA and stroke. In fact, strokes are among the top ten causes of death in children. Despite their importance, TIA and stroke in children have received scant investigation.
Dr. Laura Lehman is helping to end neglect of this important subject. An Instructor in Neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Dr. Lehman is an expert in cerebrovascular disorders and stroke in children.
Strokes are among the top ten causes of death in children. Despite their importance, TIA and stroke in children have received scant investigation.
In one of her first investigations, Dr. Lehman sought to determine the frequency and risk factors for stroke following TIA in children. The results of her study, published last year in Stroke, showed that 13% of children with TIA suffer a stroke within several years. Dr. Lehman found that the biggest risk factor for the development of stroke following TIA in children is arteriopathy. Other risk factors include female sex and autoimmune disorders.
This study was important because it showed that a large proportion of children with TIA will eventually have a stroke and that several risk factors can be identified that put children at particular risk.
Dr. Lehman is following up her initial investigations of TIA and stroke with additional studies. She is now investigating whether acute imaging with diffusion and perfusion imaging techniques can help to predict stroke following TIA in children. She is also seeking to identify biomarkers that will predict stroke following TIA in children. Furthermore, she is examining the emotional outcomes of children and parents following stroke in children. She is investigating the frequency of emotional problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, in children with stroke and their parents. This line of research may be especially relevant to outcome, as an intervention to help with the emotional aspects of stroke may maximize the child’s response to physical, occupational, and speech therapies.