Page last updated at 01:19 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 02:19 UK

Child strokes going 'undiagnosed'

Doctor with child
The study will aim to learn more about strokes in children

Up to five children a day in the UK are suffering from undiagnosed strokes, new research suggests.

Experts from Bristol University are studying what they say is a "striking lack of public and medical awareness" of childhood strokes.

This condition is thought to be as common as some cancers.

The scientists will monitor victims from the south of England for a year after their first attack in order to learn more about the symptoms.

The average time between the onset of symptoms to presentation to a medical professional, for children suffering a stroke, is five-and-a-half hours.

This means many young stroke sufferers do not benefit from life-saving treatments because they are are diagnosed too late.

The Study of Childhood Stroke (SOCS) will see a collaboration between paediatric neurologists, physiotherapists and radiologists.

Lack of funding

Dr Finbar O'Callaghan, from Bristol University, said that "at least" one child per day has a stroke in the UK "and it may be as high as five per day".

He added: "Stroke in children is not as rare as many people may believe.

"One of the main reasons we don't know the exact number of children having strokes is that no national registration system exists as it does for childhood cancer.

"There is a striking lack of public and medical awareness of stroke in children and this manifests itself in the amount of funding available for research.

"Childhood stroke may be as common as childhood cancer, and in many ways equally devastating to families, but in the last year in the UK the charitable income for childhood cancer was 224m versus 3m for childhood stroke."

Stroke was given as the cause of death for nearly 1,500 children between 1979 and 2000.

Emma Hinton's daughter Amber was left partially paralysed after she had a stroke.

She told the BBC: "Her face had completely dropped on the left side and a couple of my friends said, 'You need to take her to hospital. She's had a stroke.'

"And I was a bit sort of like, 'Oh, don't be silly. That's for older people.'

"It sounds really awful. She had an MRI scan within that night by the time we got up there so she received immediate treatment for it."

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