Stroke in the Developing Brain: Neurophysiologic Implications of Stroke Timing, Location, and Comorbid Factors

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Pediatric stroke, which is unique in that it represents a static insult to a developing brain, often leads to long-term neurological disability. Neuroplasticity in infants and children influences neurophysiologic recovery patterns after stroke; therefore outcomes depend on several factors including the timing and location of stroke and the presence of comorbid conditions. Methods: In this review, we discuss the unique implications of stroke occurring in the fetal, perinatal, and childhood/adolescent time periods. First, we highlight the impact of the developmental stage of the brain at the time of insult on the motor, sensory, cognitive, speech, and behavioral domains. Next, we consider the influence of location of stroke on the presence and severity of motor and nonmotor outcomes. Finally, we discuss the impact of associated conditions on long-term outcomes and risk for stroke recurrence. Results: Hemiparesis is common after stroke at any age, although the severity of impairment differs by age group. Risk of epilepsy is elevated in all age groups compared with those without stroke. Outcomes in other domains vary by age, although several studies suggest worse cognitive outcomes when stroke occurs in early childhood compared with fetal and later childhood epochs. Conditions such as congenital heart disease, sickle cell disease, and moyamoya increase the risk of stroke and leave patients differentially vulnerable to neurodevelopmental delay, stroke recurrence, silent infarcts, and cognitive impairment. Conclusions: A comprehensive understanding of the interplay of various factors is essential in guiding the clinical care of patients with pediatric stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Childhood stroke
  • Developing brain
  • Neurological outcomes
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Pediatric stroke
  • Perinatal stroke
  • Stroke recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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