Febrile Seizures in Children

Febrile Seizures in Children

  Autor dr. Molfea Camelia Data: 24.01.2006

Febrile Seizures in Children
Febrile seizures are a very important health issue in children, and between 4 and 5% of the children go through one or more such episodes until they are 5. 

The first crisis, which is mild, occurs in the first year of life most often, the febrile seizures occur mostly in boys. They occur in the first day of a disease with high fever, as the body temperature rises. 
The characteristics of febrile seizures are the following: 
  • occurs on a fever base; the fever must be equal or higher than 38 C degrees. 
  • Occurs in infants or little children, usually between 6 months and 5 years old. 
  • Fever is not caused by an infection of the central nervous system (such as meningitis, encephalitis - in such cases it's not about febrile seizures) 
  • they last short, usually less than 15 minutes. 
  • Neurologically speaking, children are normal, excepting the crisis period. 
The febrile seizures present a genetic predisposition, a quarter of the cases having a history of febrile seizures during childhood. In most cases, the fever which leads to seizure occurance is caused by acute infections of upper airways, usually being viral (such as rhinopharyngitis, the start of childhood eruptive diseases, but may also be caused by other infections associated with fever. Such seizures may occur as a result of some vaccines such as DTP, polio, MMR). In most cases with febrile seizure, the evolution is favorable even if it recurs, but there are also different types of febrile seizures which might lead to severe problems, these being called complex febrile seizures. They have specific characteristics to differentiate them from the simple ones: 
  • the convulsive symptoms occur on only one half of the body 
  • the crisis last more than 30 minutes 
  • after a crisis, the child has temporary problems regarding the movement of some body parts which were implied in the seizure. 
  • The crisis reccurs within 24 hours. The crisis with such symptoms has a high risk of neurological consequences. 
At the first febrile seizure, the child must be hospitalized in order to make the difference between this and other more severe problems such as meningitis, meningoencephalitis or other temporary convulsions. The febrile seizures must be differentiated from a first epilepsy crisis which might be also rarely associated with fever. 
The febrile seizures might have relapses at a third of cases. The relapses disappear after the age of 5. The relapses are more frequent in children with relatives who have a history of febrile seizures, in those who have crisis under the age of 18 months and in those with complex febrile seizures. 
Children with febrile seizures have a normal mental and intellectual development. 

Treatment When the first episode of febrile seizure occurs, you must take the child to the hospital. This thing will help the exclusion of some more severe problems, and more than that, you will be trained how to prevent other crisis that your child might have. Mainly, you will be told how to be careful at any body temperature rise of your child, and, in case you notice such a rise, you must give antipyretics to your child, usually as suppositories, such as paracetamol suppositories for children, eferalgan or algocalmin suppositories for children. You may also take other measures to reduce fever, such as warm wraps or long warm baths, gradually chilled. In case the seizures recur, you will probably have a product which was prescribed by the pediatrician, called Desitin, and which you will administer to your child anally, thus leading to febrile seizures stop in most cases. The doctor will prescribe this product with a suitable dose for your child. I would like to end this article by mentioning that the best attitude you can adopt in case your child has such a seizure, is to rush to the hospital, a pediatric one preferably, where your child will benefit from special care, and you will be more calm if you follow the given advices. Follow the motto "It is always better to prevent". 

Read the English version of this article: Febrile Seizures in Children