Aim  To study functional outcome in children aged 1 month to 18 years after paediatric arterial ischaemic stroke (PAIS) and to identify risk factors influencing their quality of life.

Method  In a consecutive series of 76 children (35 males 41 females, median age at diagnosis 2y 6mo, range 1mo–17y 2mo; median length of follow-up 2y 4mo, range [7mo–10y 6mo]) with PAIS diagnosed at the Erasmus Medical Centre Sophia Children's Hospital between 1997 and 2006, we collected clinical, biochemical, and radiological data prospectively. In 66 children surviving at least 1 year after PAIS, functional outcome could be evaluated with the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps.

Results  Significant risk factors at presentation for a poor neurological outcome were young age, infarction in the right middle cerebral artery territory, and fever at presentation. Fifty-four % of children had severe neurological impairments at 12 months after PAIS, and at last follow-up more than half needed remedial teaching, special education, or institutionalization. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires showed a significantly lower HRQOL in all age groups. Children with a longer follow-up had a lower HRQOL in the cognitive functioning domain.

Interpretation  Our study shows significant morbidity and mortality and a reduced HRQOL after PAIS depending on age, fever at presentation, and infarction in the right middle cerebral artery territory.