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25 / 03 / 2018
Febrile Seizure
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Febrile seizure




In young children, a rapidly rising body temperature can cause a seizure or a convulsion. This is called a fever seizure or febrile seizure. It typically affects children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years and lasts just a few minutes. But it can seem like an eternity to frightened parents.

Watching your child lose consciousness or shake his or her arms and legs uncontrollably can be terrifying and alarming, but febrile seizures aren't as dangerous as they may seem. A seizure triggered by a sudden fever is usually harmless and usually doesn't indicate a long-term or ongoing problem. In fact, it's fairly common - affecting about 2 percent to 4 percent of children under age 5. Still, a febrile seizure is always a reason to seek medical attention, especially to determine the cause of the fever.

Signs and symptoms

Occasional odd, twitchy or jerky movements are common in infants, especially when they're sleepy — these are not seizures. Signs of a febrile seizure include:

  • Repeated rhythmic jerking or stiffening of your child's arms, legs and face

  • Eyes rolled back in your child's head

  • Breathing problems

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Loss of urine

  • Vomiting

  • An elevated body temperature — usually higher than 39 C.

Febrile seizures are classified as simple or complex:

  • Simple febrile seizures. These are the most common. They last from a few seconds to 15 minutes and stop on their own. After the seizure, your child may cry or be quite sleepy.

  • Complex febrile seizures. These are more serious. A complex febrile seizure lasts longer than 15 minutes, occurs more than once within 24 hours or is confined to one side of your child's body.

Although a febrile seizure is usually caused by a rapid rise in your child's temperature, the severity of the signs and symptoms doesn't necessarily reflect the level of the fever.


Most febrile seizures occur because of a sudden spike in body temperature, and most occur during the first day of a fever. But a febrile seizure also may develop as the fever is declining.

Usually, the fevers that trigger febrile seizures are caused by an infection in your child's body. The most common cause is a typical childhood illness, such as a middle ear infection or roseola — a viral infection that causes swollen glands and a rash. A less common but very serious cause of sudden fever and febrile seizures is an infection of a child's brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). One such infection is meningitis, a condition in which membranes surrounding the brain become infected. Another is encephalitis, an inflammation in the brain itself.

The risk of febrile seizures also increases after common childhood immunizations. Febrile seizures are a rare side effect of immunization, but it may occur the day of the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccination or eight to 14 days after a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination. Febrile seizures are caused by the fever that can accompany the vaccination — not by the vaccination itself.

Risk factors

Young age is the strongest risk factor. About 2 percent to 4 percent of children experience a febrile seizure before their fifth birthday. These seizures usually occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years and are particularly common in toddlers. Children rarely develop their first febrile seizure before the age of 6 months or after 3 years of age, and febrile seizures usually stop by the time a child is 5 or 6 years old. Some children inherit a family's tendency to have seizures with a fever.

When to seek medical advice

Have a first-time febrile seizure evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible, even if it lasts only a few seconds. If the seizure ends quickly, call your doctor as soon as it's over and ask when and where your child can be examined. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes or is accompanied by vomiting, problems with breathing or extreme sleepiness, call for an ambulance to take your child to the emergency room.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.

In no event will the be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.
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Dr. Eddy Bettermann M.D.

Mob: +60.17 545 1784         +66.89 8550 5066





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