Annapolis Valley mother wants you to know what its like when your newborn has a stroke

Published on April 5, 2017

Pictured with his big brother Evan Pitt, Ryan Pitt (left) has been consistently impressing those around him with his progress after doctors discovered he had a stroke at just three days old.


GREENWOOD, N.S. - Katie Pitt remembers the sense of shock she felt when she learned her three-day-old baby had suffered a stroke

The questions “how” and “why” weighed heavily on her mind. It all came without warning.

Looking back, she’s grateful they were still in the hospital when it happened. Her second born, Ryan, had to undergo treatments for jaundice before they were cleared to go home.

Pitt vividly recalls a moment that she feels could have easily gone unnoticed had they not been in the company of a nurse. She explained that babies often have a reflex that causes both arms and legs to suddenly shoot up in the air, but with Ryan it was a bit different.

“His was one sided instead of both going up,” said Pitt, a resident of Greenwood.

The nurse asked if she could take Ryan to a pediatrician for a consult, and they were later sent to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax for additional testing. The diagnosis  - left ischemic stroke - came the following day.

“Had we not been in the hospital I wouldn’t have known because I didn’t know it was weird he was only moving one side,” said Pitt.

Katie Pitt snuggles up with her two young boys, three-year-old Evan and one-year-old Ryan. Ryan, pictured on the right, had a stroke at just three days old, and Pitt is now raising awareness that the strokes can happen at any age.

“The stats say that one in 2,300 births are affected by strokes. That’s a huge number but because you don’t see it right away, a lot of times people don’t find out that somebody’s had a stroke until they haven’t reached a milestone.”

Early detection proved to be key for Ryan, who is now an energetic one-year-old with a knack for charming the ladies with his big smile.

“He’s a full-on boy. He likes cars, running around, loves his brother… he is insanely happy all the time – always smiling,” said Pitt, who also has a three-year-old son.

Ryan’s pediatrician and care team at the IWK closely monitors his progress. Pitt knows her son’s life would have been drastically different if the stroke went undetected.

“The brain at that age is very easily able to adapt and overcome everything because your brain is still growing,” she said.

She’s sharing her personal story in advance of Pediatric Stroke Awareness Day (May 6) as a way to inform the public that strokes can happen at any age, and even before birth.

“I’m a registered nurse and I didn’t even know about strokes happening in kids, so in my head that’s saying that probably the general population also doesn’t know,” she said.

“The biggest thing that I want to get across is that it can happen, and it does, and you might not have even known.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Pediatric Stroke Support Association Community Facebook page ( or