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Health Watch: Local baby survives stroke at birth

Strokes are usually associated with older people, but strokes are one of the top ten causes of death for children.

However, one local baby suffered a stoke at birth, and survived.

Suzanne Allert had a healthy and happy pregnancy. Her delivery was anything but. "He had the cord around his neck, he was stuck in the birth canal for a while. He was also turned sideways and it was almost like the perfect storm."

Elijah was born after 32 hours of labor and an emergency c-section. "They came to my husband and said that, he had quit breathing."

Elijah was having seizures. Tests were run for four days. "She said that he had had a stroke. Honestly, a lot of it was a blur."

The Allerts, like most parents of pediatric stroke patients, will never know for sure what caused Elijah's episode.

Suzanne's a nurse practitioner. She knew that having such an early diagnosis was a major blessing. Symptoms like body weakness, speech and motor delays, and severe headaches, often don't appear until 8 months of age. "Good in the sense that we were able to be very proactive and preventative in using braces and therapy."

Elijah's therapy began when he was six-weeks-old. "He just turned one, and has 4-5 formal therapy sessions a week."

Suzanne and Mike also spend four to five hours each day having deliberate "home" therapy. "Therapy is play. So, when he's playing, we're very intentional about the things that we say and the things we direct him to."

Doctor Ramak Amjad is the medical director for Sacred Heart's NICU.

The neonatologist was Elijah's doctor during his two week NICU stay.

He works to empower families facing uncertain medical futures. "The number one determinant of how well these babies do is how involved the parents are."

Elijah wears a brace to constrain his stronger hand, so he's forced to use his affected one. "You're retraining that side of the brain to do the work," he said. "With babies, their brains try to rewire and work around the area of injury and they can do really well."

Suzanne says she has the same hopes and dreams for her child as she did before his tumultuous birth. "The unknown, the future. It's really scary, but you know, this last year has been so incredible that it gives me hope that if he could do this in just a year, he's gonna do great."