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Articles » NINDS Febrile Seizures Information Page: NINDS
 

NINDS Febrile Seizures Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Febrile Seizures Information Page: NINDS

Conditions: Febrile Seizures


What are Febrile Seizures?
Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness and shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the child becomes rigid or has twitches in only a portion of the body. Most febrile seizures last a minute or two; some can be as brief as a few seconds, while others last for more than 15 minutes. To prevent accidental injury, the child should be placed on a protected surface such as the floor or ground. The child should not be held or restrained during a convulsion. To prevent choking, the child should be placed on his or her side or stomach. When possible, the parent should gently remove all objects in the child's mouth. The parent should never place anything in the child's mouth during a convulsion. Once the seizure has ended, the child should be taken to his or her doctor to check for the source of the fever. Doctors sometimes perform tests to be sure that seizures are not caused by something other than simply the fever itself. The majority of children with febrile seizures have rectal temperatures greater than 102 degrees F. Most febrile seizures occur during the first day of a child's fever. Febrile seizures usually occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years and are particularly common in toddlers. A few factors appear to boost a child's risk of having recurrent febrile seizures, including young age (less than 15 months) during the first seizures, frequent fevers, and having immediate family members with a history of febrile seizures.

Is there any treatment?
A child who has a febrile seizure usually doesn't need to be hospitalized. If the seizure is prolonged or is accompanied by a serious infection, or if the source of the infection cannot be determined, a doctor may recommend that the child be hospitalized for observation. Prolonged daily use of oral anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital or valproate, to prevent febrile seizures is usually not recommended because of their potential for side effects and questionable effectiveness for preventing such seizures.

What is the prognosis?
The vast majority of febrile seizures are harmless. There is no evidence that febrile seizures cause brain damage. Certain children who have febrile seizures face an increased risk of developing epilepsy. These children include those who have febrile seizures that are lengthy or that recur within 24 hours and who have cerebral palsy, delayed development, or other neurological abnormalities.

What research is being done?
NINDS-supported scientists are exploring what environmental and genetic risk factors make children susceptible to febrile seizures. Investigators continue to monitor the long-term impact that febrile seizures might have on intelligence, behavior, school achievement, and the development of epilepsy. For example, scientists conducting studies in animals are assessing the effects of seizures and anticonvulsant drugs on brain development. Investigators also continue to explore which drugs can effectively treat or prevent febrile seizures and to check for side effects of these medicines.

 Organizations

Epilepsy Foundation
4351 Garden City Drive
Suite 500
Landover, MD 20785-7223
postmaster@efa.org
https://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/
Tel: 301-459-3700 800-EFA-1000 (332-1000)
Fax: 301-577-2684

Related NINDS Publications and Information

  • Febrile Seizures Fact Sheet
    Febrile seizures fact sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
  • Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research
    Information booklet on seizures, seizure disorders, and epilepsy compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
  • Convulsiones Febriles
    Convulsiones febriles hoja informativa/Spanish-language fact sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
  • La Parálisis Cerebral: Esperanza a través de la Investigación
    Información de la parálisis cerebral/Spanish-language booklet on cerebral palsy compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

    This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
    The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892


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