904-224-KIDS (5437)
CLICK HERE FOR HOURS

Articles

Febrile Seizures

What is a febrile seizure?

In some children, fevers can trigger seizures. Febrile seizures occur in 2% to 5% of all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. These seizures are sometimes called “fits” or “spells.” These can be frightening but are usually harmless. A febrile seizure usually happens during the first few hours of a fever. The child may look strange for a few moments, then stiffen, twitch, and roll his eyes. He will be unresponsive for a short time, his breathing will be disturbed, and his skin may appear a little darker than usual. After the seizure, the child quickly returns to normal. Seizures usually last less than 1 minute, but although uncommon, can last for up to 15 minutes.

The risk of having seizures with other episodes of fever depends on the age of your child. Children younger than 1 year of age at the time of their first seizure have about a 50% chance of having another febrile seizure. Children older than 1 year of age at the time of their first seizure have only a 30% chance of having a second febrile seizure. Epileptic seizures are not caused by fevers. Children with a history of febrile seizures are at only a slightly higher risk of developing epilepsy by age 7 than other children who have not had febrile seizures. Febrile seizures do not cause brain damage, nervous system problems, paralysis, mental retardation, or death.

What do I do if my child has a febrile seizure?

If your child has a febrile seizure, act immediately to prevent injury.

  • Place her on the floor or bed away from any sharp or hard objects.
  • Turn her head to the side so that any saliva or vomit can drain from her mouth.
  • Do not put anything into her mouth.
  • Call your pediatrician.

How are febrile seizures treated?

If your child has a febrile seizure, call your pediatrician right away. He/she will want to examine your child in order to determine the cause of your child’s fever. It is more important to determine and the treat the cause of the fever rather than the seizure. A spinal tap may be done to be sure your child does not have a serious infection like meningitis, especially if your child is younger than 1 year of age. Anti-fever drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help lower a fever, but they do not prevent febrile seizures. If your child has had a febrile seizure, do not fear the worst. These types of seizures are not dangerous to your child and do not cause long-term health problems.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

back to: Article Archives