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The researchers found that 55 percent of the parents met at least one of the PTSD criteria and 24 percent met all the criteria. PTSD was not seen in any of young stroke patients, but 22 percent of them had clinically significant levels of anxiety.
"Our concern is that PTSD in parents of a child with stroke or pediatric stroke patients experiencing anxiety may have a harder time complying with therapy, which could affect health outcomes of the child," lead researcher Dr. Laura Lehman, a neurologist at Boston Children's Hospital, said in an American Stroke Association news release.
"The data are preliminary, but we could use this information to screen families for potential PTSD and emotional problems after stroke, so that we can plan more targeted interventions, such as support groups, and determine who is at risk. We want to ensure that PTSD or other emotional problems do not interfere with the child's recovery," Lehman said.
The study was to be presented Thursday at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting in Nashville. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Stroke occurs in about 3,000 children and young adults in the United States each year, and between 20 percent and 40 percent of children die after a stroke, making it one of the leading causes of death among American children, according to the stroke association.
Two common risk factors for stroke in children are sickle cell disease and congenital heart disease. Boys are at higher risk than girls, and black children are at higher risk than white or Asian children, according to the association.
PTSD has been noted among parents of critically ill children, but this is the first study to look at PTSD risk in the parents of young stroke patients, the researchers added.
-- Robert Preidt
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