About one in 25 children will suffer a febrile seizure, a convulsion induced by fever. Seeing a child endure a seizure is terrifying, but parents can rest assured that febrile seizures are not life-threatening and do not have lasting consequences.
Calm your fears and learn more about febrile seizures from Dr. Lily Tran, a CHOC Children’s neurologist.
Q: Do febrile seizures cause lasting damage?
A: Febrile seizures, in general, do not have any lasting effects or permanent damage. Children often do not need to be treated or medicated with anti-epileptic medications.
Q: Are febrile seizures linked to epilepsy?
A: A febrile seizure is a seizure provoked by a fever. Someone diagnosed with epilepsy has suffered at least two unprovoked seizures in his or her lifetime. A small portion of children who experience febrile seizures, about 2 percent, may go on to have epilepsy. There are also people with epilepsy who have never had a febrile seizure. Some children are simply genetically predisposed to suffer febrile seizures. A close examination of a family’s health history usually reveals that a relative previously experienced such seizures.
Q: Are certain populations of children more susceptible to febrile seizures?
A: Boys are slightly more likely to suffer febrile seizures than girls. Across genders, febrile seizures are most likely to occur in children between ages 1 and 4. However, these seizures sometimes can happen to children younger than 12 months old, and up to age 6. Children usually outgrow the condition.
Q: I’ve never seen anyone have a seizure. What does a child suffering a febrile seizure look like?
A: A child may convulse, shake and twitch. Their eyes might also roll back, and they may become limp and unresponsive.
Q: Can I prevent febrile seizures from happening to my child?
A: No. Again, some children are simply predisposed to suffering seizures triggered by fever. However, parents can work to treat a fever, the impetus for a febrile seizure. If usual at-home remedies do not help reduce a fever, seek medical attention to rule out a more serious illness.
Q: My child has suffered multiple febrile seizures: Should she see a specialist?
A: If your child is younger than 12 months old or older than 4 and is experiencing febrile seizures, your pediatrician may refer you to a specialist for further monitoring. Seek a specialist’s help if your child has experienced more than two febrile seizures in a 24-hour period, or has suffered a complex febrile seizure, characterized by seizures affecting one side or one part of the body and lasting longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
Learn more about this important topic on the CHOC Blog next week. Visit www.choc.org/neuroscience to learn more about CHOC’s Neuroscience Institute.