What are febrile seizures?
Febrile seizures are convulsions that
are brought on by a fever. These
happen in infants and small children.
They usually happen as the child’s
temperature is rising. Many febrile
seizures happen during the first day
of a child’s fever.
The child often loses consciousness.
Often both arms and legs jerk.
Sometimes, the body will get stiff.
There might be jerking in just part of
the body, like an arm or leg on the
same side of the body.
Most febrile seizures last one to two
minutes. Sometimes they are very
brief and at times much longer.
Most children outgrow febrile
seizures by the time they are 5 years
How common are febrile seizures?
About one in 25 children will have at
least one febrile seizure.
More than one third of these children
will have more febrile seizures.
Febrile seizures happen between the
ages of 6 months and 5 years and are
common in toddlers.
Are febrile seizures harmful?
Most febrile seizures are not
Since most febrile seizures stop on
their own, they do not cause brain
damage or learning problems.
Most children who have febrile
seizures will not have seizures
without fever after age 5.
Most children with febrile seizures
do not develop epilepsy. Some
children with febrile seizures will
later develop epilepsy.
The risk factors are:
o slow development.
o seizures without fever in a
o febrile seizures that last
longer than 15 minutes.
o seizures that affect only one
side of the body.
How are febrile seizures prevented and
Medicine to lower fever may be used
but this might not prevent a febrile
seizure from happening.
A sponge bath with luke-warm water
(not cold water) may help reduce
fever and make your child more
Daily use of seizure medicine is not
often recommended unless your
child’s febrile seizures are long,
complicated, or you live in an area
where you cannot get medical care
Some children are given a medicine
to stop or prevent a seizure only
when the child has a fever.
How do I care for my child during a
Stay calm. Carefully watch your
Place your child on the floor,
ground, or bed.
Do not hold your child down.
Do not try to stop the body
Turn your child on his or her
side. This helps saliva drain out
of the mouth.
Clear the area of any hard, sharp
or hot objects that might harm
Do not place anything in the
mouth during a seizure.
Breathing can become irregular
or there can be a color change
around the lips. This is normal.
After the seizure, your child
might throw up. Keep your child
on his or her side for a few
Keep track of the time. If the
seizure lasts longer than 5
minutes call 911.
Ask your child’s doctor if he or
she should have a medicine that
you can give to stop a long
Where can I get more information?
8301 Professional Place
Landover MD 20785
National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke
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have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2017 University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7291