Febrile seizure is the most common type of seizure in children. It affects 2% to 5% of children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years1.
Approximately 2/3 of children will not have future recurrence after the first episode of febrile seizure2. On the other hand, 1/3 of the children will have recurrence of febrile seizures, until they reach 6 years of age2. Although febrile seizures can look frightening to caregivers, those lasting less than 15 minutes do not cause any long-term health problems such as brain damage. Febrile seizures lasting more than 30 minutes can result in complications such as lack of oxygen to the brain and thus seizures should not be allowed to continue for a prolonged period of time. Only 3% of children with febrile seizures may go on to have seizures not associated with fever, otherwise known as epilepsy3.
A febrile seizure is caused by a fever spike (usually more than 38.3°C).
A seizure usually consists of eyes uprolling, frothing at the mouth, stiffening and jerking of the upper and lower limbs and loss of consciousness. Most febrile seizures stop spontaneously within 5 minutes and the child regains consciousness thereafter. Infrequently, the seizure may last longer than 30 minutes.
Most parents will use fever-lowering medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen during a child's illness. However, these medications will only offer symptom relief and make the child feel more comfortable. Studies have shown that they do not reduce the chance of a febrile seizure.
Doctors do not recommend taking anti-seizure medications to prevent recurrence of febrile seizure as these regular medications have potential side effects and do not outweigh the benefits. As febrile seizures are usually short-lived and harmless, anti-seizure medications will not be recommended routinely.
Anti-convulsants are rarely prescribed unless your child has other neurological problems. Your doctor will discuss this with you.