Febrile seizures

Alternative Names

Seizure – fever induced

Definition of Febrile seizures

A febrile seizure is a in a child triggered by a . These convulsions occur without any brain or spinal cord infection or other nervous system (neurologic) cause.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

About 3 – 5% of otherwise healthy children between ages 9 months and 5 years will have a seizure caused by a fever. Toddlers are most commonly affected. Febrile seizures often run in families.

Symptoms

A febrile seizure may be as mild as the child’s eyes rolling or limbs stiffening. Often a fever triggers a full-blown convulsion that involves the whole body.

Signs and tests

The health care provider may diagnose febrile seizure if the child has a grand mal seizure but does not have a history of seizure disorders (). In infants and young children, it is important to rule out other causes of a first-time seizure, especially meningitis.

Treatment

During the seizure, leave your child on the floor.

Expectations (prognosis)

The first febrile seizure is a frightening moment for parents. Most parents are afraid that their child will die or have brain damage. However, simple febrile seizures are harmless. There is no evidence that they cause death, brain damage, epilepsy, mental retardation, a decrease in IQ, or learning difficulties.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/11/2010

Grand mal seizure
Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.