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Newborn Medical Series: Febrile Seizures

What are febrile seizures?

Seizures are waves of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They can make you pass out, or move or behave strangely. Febrile means that the seizure is caused by a fever. Febrile seizures occur in children ages six months to five years old. They often run in families.

How do I know if my child has a fever?

To find out if your child has a fever, take his or her temperature. The most accurate way is to take a rectal temperature. A rectal temperature higher than 100.4°F is a fever. See our fever guide for more information.

What are the symptoms of a febrile seizure?

During a febrile seizure, the child usually passes out and has jerking movements of the arms, legs, or face. Most febrile seizures last less than five minutes. After a seizure, the child might be confused or sleepy for a short time. Although not as common, some febrile seizures last more than 15 minutes. After a longer seizure, a child can have short-term weakness in his or her arms or legs. This is called a post-ictal phase.

How can I help my child during a seizure?

During a seizure, you should:

  • Put your child on his or her side.

  • Do not put anything in your child’s mouth or try to stop the jerking movements.

  • Keep track of how long the seizure lasts. If it lasts more than 5 minutes, call for an ambulance right away.

  • If this is your child’s first ever seizure, take him or her to your nearest hospital, preferably a hospital dedicated to children.

Does my child need to see a doctor?

Yes. Take your child to the doctor as soon as possible. He or she will want to make sure that your child’s fever isn’t caused by serious infection. To do this, your doctor might need to do tests.

How are febrile seizures treated?

If a febrile seizure stops on its own, it does not need to be treated. If a febrile seizure last more than five minutes, a doctor might need to use anti-seizure medication’s to stop it. Your child might also get other treatments like Tylenol to bring down the fever, antibiotics to treat a possible infection, and fluids to stay hydrated.

Will my child have more febrile seizures?

It is possible. Children who have a febrile seizure have a higher chance of having another. Talk with your doctor about how to treat any fevers that your child gets in the future. If your child keeps having febrile seizures, your doctor may prescribe medicine so you can treat your child seizures at home. Febrile seizures do not necessarily mean your child will have a life-long seizure condition.

For a more in-depth explanation and look at febrile seizures, check out this great YouTube video we found.

As always- like, comment, and share!

Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN


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