A febrile seizure is a convulsion that may happen when a baby or young child has a fever over 100.4° F (38° C).
A high fever is thought to trigger the seizure. The fever is most often caused by infections. Rarely, some may be caused by fever after routine immunizations .
This problem is more common in children who are 6 months to 3 years old. The risk may last until age 5. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Family history of febrile seizures
- Developmental delay problems
- Having a viral infection
- Recent immunization
A seizure often lasts a few seconds up to 15 minutes. It may cause:
- Convulsion—jerking or stiffening muscles
- Eye rolling
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. More tests may be done to find the cause of the fever.
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Febrile seizures go away as children get older. The goal of treatment is to manage the fevers that cause them. This can be done with medicines, such as antibiotics.
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Acetaminophen to lower the fever
A rectal valium gel may be used in children who have repeat seizures.
Epilepsy Foundation http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Febrile seizure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/febrile-seizure . Updated November 30, 2018. Accessed January 6, 2020.
Febrile seizures: what every parent should know. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/febrile-seizures.html. Updated March 1, 2014. Accessed January 6, 2020.
Kimia AA, Bachur RG, et al. Febrile seizures: emergency medicine perspective. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2015 Jun;27(3):292-297.
Febrile seizures fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Febrile-Seizures-Fact-Sheet#3111. Updated August 13, 2019. Accessed January 6, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 09/2019
- Update Date: 01/06/2020