- Epilepsy Slideshow
- Brain Disorders Image Collection
- Take the Epilepsy (Seizure Disorder) Quiz
- Patient Comments: Febrile Seizures - Experience
- Patient Comments: Febrile Seizures - Symptoms
- Seizure symptoms: how to assist the victim
- NIH on what are febrile seizures?
- How common are febrile seizures?
- What are the symptoms of a febrile seizure?
- What makes a child prone to recurrent febrile seizures?
- Are febrile seizures harmful?
- What should be done for a child having a febrile seizure?
- How are febrile seizures diagnosed and treated?
- How are febrile seizures prevented?
- What research is being done on febrile seizures?
- Where can I get more information?
Are febrile seizures harmful?
Although they can be frightening to parents, the vast majority of febrile seizures are harmless. During a seizure, there is a small chance that the child may be injured by falling or may choke from food or saliva in the mouth. Using proper first aid for seizures can help avoid these hazards (see section entitled "What should be done for a child having a febrile seizure?").
There is no evidence that febrile seizures cause brain damage. Large studies have found that children with febrile seizures have normal school achievement and perform as well on intellectual tests as their siblings who don't have seizures. Even in the rare instances of very prolonged seizures (more than 1 hour), most children recover completely.
Between 95 and 98 percent of children who have experienced febrile seizures do not go on to develop epilepsy. However, although the absolute risk remains very small, certain children who have febrile seizures face an increased risk of developing epilepsy. These children include those who have febrile seizures that are lengthy, that affect only part of the body, or that recur within 24 hours, and children with cerebral palsy, delayed development, or other neurological abnormalities. Among children who don't have any of these risk factors, only one in 100 develops epilepsy after a febrile seizure.
What should be done for a child having a febrile seizure?
Parents and caregivers should stay calm and carefully observe the child. To prevent accidental injury, the child should be placed on a protected surface such as the floor or ground. The child should not be held or restrained during a convulsion. To prevent choking, the child should be placed on his or her side or stomach. When possible, the parent should gently remove all objects in the child's mouth. The parent should never place anything in the child's mouth during a convulsion. Objects placed in the mouth can be broken and obstruct the child's airway. If the seizure lasts longer than 10 minutes, the child should be taken immediately to the nearest medical facility. Once the seizure has ended, the child should be taken to his or her doctor to check for the source of the fever. This is especially urgent if the child shows symptoms of stiff neck, extreme lethargy, or abundant vomiting.