Febrile convulsion is a condition for younger children, most commonly presenting in between 6 months to 6 years of age.
What causes febrile convulsions (seizures)?
Some children in this age group are more vulnerable to disturbance in electrical activity of brain with high fever, and get a generalised shaking of body often followed by stiffness. It usually last for less than 3 minutes, and child is often tired after the convulsion but recovers fully within 24 hours with no deficit in his neurological condition. This usually is a clinical diagnosis based on presentation and findings on examination, and does not need any specific treatment apart from antipyretics.
Very rarely it can present in an atypical manner such as a focal convulsion, such as involving on one side of body or one limb, or a weakness of one side of body after persisting for more than 24 hours, or convulsion lasting for more than 10-15 minutes.
A typical febrile convulsion is not dangerous, and does not cause any long term damage to brain.
There is often also a family history found for febrile convulsion in one or more of family members.
What should I do when it happens?
It is important to make sure that child is in a safe condition. There are videos and education provided for putting the child in recovery posture, and basic life support procedures -
NHS Information Link:
Once the child is put in recovery position, it is important to make sure that there is no vomit/forth in the mouth to obstruct the breathing. The body should be tried to cool down by ventilating the room, and sometimes a fan can be helpful.
Any extra clothing should be removed as possible. If the convulsion persists for more than 5 minutes, parents should ring ‘999’ for ambulance services with paramedics, and child may need to be taken to the nearby hospital/doctor for further management. If the fit stops within 3-5 minutes, child should still be examined by a doctor at earliest possible opportunity to make sure about further management of fever, and treat the cause such as any infection if necessary.
My child has got febrile convulsion, how can I prevent it re-occurring?
There is no measure to predict the onset of convulsions and prevent it. However it is useful to look after your child to prevent the rise of temperature if he/she is unwell for any reasons. Once convulsion starts, you should make sure putting the child in recovery position, and take necessary actions as above mentioned.
Does my child need any investigations or brain scan?
Usually there is no need of any investigations for a typical febrile convulsion. Children may need a brain wave testing called as EEG ( Electro –Encephalogram), in atypical presentations, and sometimes even a brain scan to make sure that the convulsion is not due to any changes in brain.
Will my child get Epilepsy?
Majority of children presenting with Typical Febrile convulsion recover fully by age 5 years. A very small number of children may need further investigation and may have likelihood of Epilepsy in later life if they got atypical presentations, or a family history of Epilepsy. It very much depends on children’s’ and family history and the presentation.