Nervous System Home > Febrile Seizures

Infants and small children may experience febrile seizures, which are convulsions brought on by a fever. In most cases, these seizures last a minute or two and occur in children with a rectal temperature greater than 102º Fahrenheit. While the vast majority of these seizures are harmless, it's important to use proper first aid for seizures to reduce the risk of falling or choking. A child who has this type of seizure usually doesn't need to be hospitalized.

What Are Febrile Seizures?

Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness and shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Less commonly, the child becomes rigid or has twitches in only a portion of the body, such as an arm or a leg, or on the right or the left side only.
 
Most febrile seizures last a minute or two, although some can be as brief as a few seconds. Others can last for more than 15 minutes.
 
The majority of children who experience febrile seizures have rectal temperatures greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Most febrile seizures occur during the first day of a child's fever. Children prone to febrile seizures are not considered to have epilepsy, since epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are not triggered by fever.
 

Statistics

Approximately one in every 25 children will have at least one febrile seizure, and more than one third of these children will have additional febrile seizures before they outgrow the tendency to have them.
 
Febrile seizures usually occur in children between the ages of six months and five years and are particularly common in toddlers. Children rarely develop their first febrile seizure before the age of six months or after three years of age. The older a child is when the first febrile seizure occurs, the less likely that child is to have more.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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