A febrile seizure is a fit that can happen when a child has a fever. Febrile seizures are also sometimes called febrile convulsions. They are relatively common and, in most cases, aren't serious. Around one in 20 children will have at least one febrile seizure at some point. They most often occur between the ages of six months and three years.
During a febrile seizure, the child's body usually becomes stiff, they lose consciousness and their arms and legs twitch. This is a unique form of epilepsy that occurs in early childhood and only in association with an elevation of temperature. The underlying pathophysiology is unknown, but genetic predisposition clearly contributes to the occurrence of this disorder.
A child having a febrile seizure may:
Have a fever higher than 100.4 F (38.0 C)
Shake or jerk arms and legs
A blood test
A urine test
A spinal tap (lumbar puncture), to find out if your child has a central nervous system infection, such as meningitis
In many cases, febrile seizures do not need to be treated, although care should be taken to deal with a seizure as it happens.
If it's your child's first seizure, or if it lasts longer than five minutes, take your child to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
Aspirin should never be given to children under 16 years of age because there's a small risk that the medication could trigger a condition called Reye’s syndrome, which can cause brain and liver damage.
Febrile seizures happen between the ages of six months and five years. They affect between 2-5% of children.