HealthDay News — A cold or the flu may sometimes trigger a stroke in children — especially those with underlying health conditions — but the overall risk remains low, according to a study published in Neurology.

Heather Fullerton, MD, a professor of child neurology and pediatric stroke neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital, and colleagues reviewed medical charts and conducted parent interviews of 355 children up to age 18 (average age 7) diagnosed with a stroke and 354 stroke-free children of similar ages. The groups hailed from nine countries. Researchers analyzed the children’s exposure to infection and their vaccine history.

Of all participants, 18% of those with stroke had an infection — including flu, colds, or to a lesser extent, urinary tract or gastrointestinal infections — in the prior week, versus 3% of the control group. The association between infection and stroke was short-lived, lasting no longer than a week. Meanwhile, children who had received some, few, or none of their routine vaccinations were seven times more likely to have a stroke than those who received most or all of their vaccinations.

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“Vaccines are clearly protective,” Fullerton told HealthDay. “No matter how we cut the data…vaccines always appear to protect against childhood strokes.”


  1. Fullerton HJ et al. Neurology. 2015; doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000002065.