Patient Care

Febrile Seizure (Children)

What is Febrile Seizure?

Febrile Seizure is the most common type of seizure in children. It affects 2% to 5% of children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years1.

A Febrile Seizure is caused by a fever spike (usually more than 38.3oC).

Approximately 2/3 of children will not have future recurrence after the first episode of Febrile Seizure2. On the other hand, 1/3 of the children will have recurrence of Febrile Seizures, until they reach 6 years of age2. Although Febrile Seizures can look frightening to caregivers, those lasting less than 15 minutes do not cause any long-term health problems such as brain damage. Febrile Seizures lasting more than 30 minutes can result in complications such as lack of oxygen to the brain and thus seizures should not be allowed to continue for a prolonged period of time. Only 3% of children with Febrile Seizures may go on to have seizures not associated with fever, otherwise known as epilepsy3.

Source:1PubMed, 2PubMed, 3PubMed

What are the signs & symptoms of a Febrile Seizure?

A seizure usually consists of eyes uprolling, frothing at the mouth, stiffening and jerking of the upper and lower limbs and loss of consciousness. Most Febrile Seizures stop spontaneously within 5 minutes and the child regains consciousness thereafter. Infrequently, the seizure may last longer than 30 minutes.

What are the treatment options for Febrile Seizures?

Most parents will use fever-lowering medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen during a child's illness. However, these medications will only offer symptom relief and make the child feel more comfortable. Studies have shown that they do not reduce the chance of a Febrile Seizure.

Doctors do not recommend taking anti-seizure medications to prevent recurrence of Febrile Seizure as these regular medications have potential side effects and do not outweigh the benefits. As Febrile Seizures are usually short-lived and harmless, anti-seizure medications will not be recommended routinely.

Anti-convulsants are rarely prescribed unless your child has other neurological problems. Your doctor will discuss this with you.

Caring for children with Febrile Seizure

What should I do when my child is having a seizure?

  • Keep calm.
  • Loosen your child's clothing.
  • Turn your child to the side to drain anything in his or her mouth to prevent choking.
  • Put something flat and soft under your child's head if this is available.
  • Move items like sharp objects or furniture away so that your child will not injure himself or herself.
  • Do not try to hold your child's tongue down with a spoon or any other objects.
  • Do not try to bring your child around by slapping, shaking or pouring water on him or her.
  • Do not give your child anything to drink.
  • Do not hold your child down or restrain him or her in any way.
  • Stay with your child until his or her breathing is normal and he or she is awake again.
  • Remember that your child may feel irritable and tired following a seizure. Make a special effort to be calm and reassuring afterward.
  • Take note of the type and duration of the seizure as this is important.

Bring your child to the Children's Emergency immediately if your child:

  • Has his or her first episode of Febrile Seizure.
  • Has a stiff neck.
  • Becomes confused or delirious.
  • Has a change in behaviour or appears persistently drowsy more than 30 minutes after the Febrile Seizure.
  • Appears unwell.
  • Has more than one seizure in a day.
  • Has a seizure that lasts for more than 5 minutes continuously. Administer rectal diazepam on your child as prescribed by your doctor if it is available.
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