Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Febrile seizures

This is a scary topic. I have seen several parents running into the ED with their kid who just had a febrile seizure and they are terrified. I have found that most people don't understand what is going on and what to do about it.

What is a febrile seizure?
A febrile seizure is a seizure (convulsion) that occurs in a child with a fever greater than 100.4 degrees. It can occur between 6 months and 6 years old and most commonly occurs in children between 12 and 18 months. They tend to occur 2-4% of kids less than 5 years old.

Does this mean my child has epilepsy?
It does not mean your child has epilepsy. Febrile seizures also do not cause brain damage.

What causes a febrile seizure?
The most common cause is infection. The most common virus implicated is human herpesvirus-6 (which causes roseola and fifth's disease). Immunizations can also cause fever and lead to seizure, especially MMR

What does a febrile seizure look like?
The seizure can often be the first sign that the child is ill.Usually a child will loose consciousness and have an arm or leg twitch rhythmically for under 15 minutes. The child then wakes up but might be sleepy for a little while.

What do I do if my child has a febrile seizure?
You should call your health care provider and your child should be seen as soon as possible. Most children who have febrile seizures are not seriously ill but they should be seen to determine the cause of the fever. Treatment of febrile seizures involves treatment of the underlying infection.

Will this happen again?
Kids who have a febrile seizures are at higher risk for it happening again. 30-35% of kids who have a febrile seizure will have another one within 1 year.

Kids who have recurrent seizures may need to be seen by a neurologist.

I think I've exhausted the fever topic. Please let me know if you have any questions about fever!

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