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Fever Seizures - Topic Overview

Fever seizures (sometimes called fever convulsions or febrile seizures) can occur in children who have a rapid increase in body temperature. You may not even know that your child has a fever. The rapid increase in body temperature in a short period of time may happen at the same time as the fever seizure. After a fever has reached a high temperature, the risk of a seizure is probably over. Most children who have a fever seizure have temperatures above 102°F (39°C).

A seizure is likely to be fever-related if:

  • There is one seizure in a 24-hour period.
  • The seizure lasted less than 15 minutes.
  • The seizure affected the entire body, not just one side of the body.
  • The child is between 6 months and 5 years old.
  • The child does not have nervous system (neurological) problems.
  • The child has had fever seizures before.

Fever seizures can be frightening but they are not usually harmful to the child and do not cause long-term problems, such as brain damage, intellectual disabilities, or learning problems.

Fever seizures affect 2% to 5% of children. Children can have another seizure. The chance of another fever seizure varies with age, but about 30% to 50% will have another within a year of the first one. These seizures are not a form of epilepsy.

A child who is having a seizure often loses consciousness and shakes, moving his or her arms and legs on both sides of the body. The child's eyes may roll back. The child may stop breathing for a few seconds and might also vomit, urinate, or pass stools. It is important to protect the child from injury during a seizure.

Fever seizures usually last 1 to 3 minutes. After the seizure, the child may be sleepy. You can let the child sleep, but check him or her frequently for changes in color or breathing, or for twitching arms or legs. The child also may seem confused after the seizure, but normal behavior and activity level should return within 60 minutes of the seizure.

Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when your child should see a doctor.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 13, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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