Trembling uncontrollably, my toddler’s tiny fingers locked right into a claw whereas his stunning blue eyes rolled in the direction of the again of his head. I froze, completely terrified and completely unaware that my son was experiencing a febrile seizure. 

Febrile seizures have been merely not on my radar. Certain, I anticipated coughs, colds and the occasional fever, however an ambulance dashing across the neighborhood was an end result I didn’t see coming. Feeling unprepared made the expertise infinitely extra alarming, however febrile seizures aren’t normally a serious trigger for concern.

Associated: Right here’s learn how to safely scale back a fever in youngsters

What’s a febrile seizure?

A febrile seizure—also called a febrile convulsion—is a seizure triggered by fever. The time period ‘febrile’ itself refers back to the signs of a fever, so it is smart that febrile seizures are sometimes accompanied by a viral or bacterial an infection that causes an elevated physique temperature, like a chilly or flu and even meningitis. Most fevers linked to febrile seizure will exceed 100.4°F (38°C), nevertheless some will happen with a milder studying. 

“A febrile seizure by definition is a seizure which happens after a fever. If a seizure happens within the absence of a fever, then it’s not a febrile seizure, it’s one thing else,” explains Ashlesha Kaushik, MD, FAAP, an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nationwide spokesperson, pediatric infectious illness specialist and scientific assistant professor of pediatrics on the College of Iowa.

“It’s the pace with which the fever rises that’s the important thing—not the peak of fever, however the sudden rise of fever that may give them a [febrile] seizure,” Dr. Kaushik provides.

Febrile seizures largely have an effect on youngsters between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, however regardless of the considerably stunning presentation, they’re usually innocent and normally require minimal administration.

Associated: New pointers for infants with fevers that each one mother and father ought to know

Signs of febrile seizures in youngsters

Many households stay with seizure issues and are formidably ready to deal with an onset always. However for others an episode can really feel frighteningly international, which is why it’s necessary to have a primary understanding of the signs of febrile seizures.

Throughout a febrile seizure a baby could:

  • Immediately tighten their muscle tissues which might make them seem inflexible and stiff
  • Jerk their physique rhythmically or shake uncontrollably
  • Lose consciousness in some circumstances, or their eyes could roll again
  • Some may additionally moan, vomit or urinate

Something that exceeds quarter-hour is a posh febrile seizure. Something beneath quarter-hour is taken into account a easy febrile seizure, which is normally related to higher outcomes.

In keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), most febrile seizures final for lower than one or two minutes.

Generally a febrile seizure would be the first indication of an sickness, and there received’t all the time be an apparent signal that an onset is imminent—together with a excessive fever you is perhaps anticipating. In truth, the very best fever essential to trigger a febrile seizure is restricted to the kid—the person convulsive temperature threshold varies. I discovered that truth vastly comforting after berating myself for seemingly ‘lacking’ one thing within the lead as much as my son’s episode. 

Associated: I wasn’t ready for my youngsters’ flu days this 12 months

How frequent are febrile seizures?

The Nationwide Institute of Neurological Problems and Stroke (NINDS) experiences that about 1 in each 25 youngsters will expertise at the least one febrile seizure, with about 40% of these experiencing a recurrence.

Hamad Husainy, DO, FACEP, a practising emergency doctor in Alabama and a spokesperson for the American School of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), says he usually sees youngsters presenting with febrile seizures.

“In my neighborhood emergency division in a rural space, we see a number of each week,” Dr. Husainy says. “These sufferers hardly ever get admitted to the hospital and the overwhelming variety of sufferers have stopped seizing on arrival to the emergency division.”

So it appears febrile seizures are comparatively frequent, but research have proven that there’s little understanding amongst mother and father. For instance, a 2021 research concluded that solely one-third of oldsters understood that their youngster was having a febrile seizure whereas it was occurring. Unsurprisingly, that very same research additionally reported 89% felt excessive ranges of tension.

Associated: I’ll be an ‘overprotective mama’ this RSV season, nevertheless it’s price it

Ought to I fear about febrile seizures?

Usually talking, a easy febrile seizure is innocent. There’s no medical proof that they are going to trigger loss of life, mind harm or studying difficulties, and most sufferers with febrile seizures don’t require hospitalization or intensive medical interventions.

As for whether or not febrile seizures recur, one research discovered that age on the time of the primary febrile seizure will be a very powerful issue for recurrence. Kids who skilled their first episode youthful than 1 12 months have a 50% likelihood of recurrence, whereas these older than 3 have a 20% chance. 

Mother and father could fear {that a} febrile seizure is indicative of different circumstances like epilepsy, however that isn’t normally the case. Epilepsy, by comparability, is characterised by recurring seizures and never fever. However know that simply 1% to 2% of kids with easy febrile seizures will develop epilepsy, in contrast with about 0.5% of kids with out febrile seizures. The statistics are low. Kids with advanced febrile seizures are at a barely greater threat at 6% to eight%. If epilepsy is recognized later, know that that is additionally a manageable situation with the suitable medical assist.

Are you able to stop febrile seizures?

Sadly, no. It’s necessary to notice that utilizing fever-reducing drugs in your youngster received’t stop febrile seizures, though they might enhance your youngster’s consolation, states AAP. 

Febrile seizures will be unpredictable and you’ll’t do something to trigger or stop them apart from comforting a baby with a fever and educating your self concerning the situation.

If a baby has had a febrile seizure earlier than, look out for related signs and observe the recommendation given to you by your physician who will possible have ready you for the potential of recurrence.

Routine childhood vaccinations in opposition to infections that usually result in fevers can be useful in some circumstances, significantly if a baby is uncovered to viral and bacterial bugs repeatedly at locations like daycare, says Dr. Kaushik.

Associated: Flu vaccination charges amongst youngsters and pregnant ladies are the bottom they’ve been in a number of seasons, CDC warns

What to do in case your youngster experiences a febrile seizure

Firstly, mother and father ought to stay calm (simpler mentioned than finished). Because of the nature of the convulsive state, there’s a small likelihood a baby could also be injured by a fall, or that they may choke on meals or saliva within the mouth. Subsequently, youngsters must be positioned on their aspect on the ground to stop damage. It is best to by no means restrain or maintain a baby throughout an episode, or place something of their mouth together with medication.

It’s additionally useful to notice the size of time of the seizure if potential. The NINDS counsel contacting an ambulance if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if the kid doesn’t appear to be recovering shortly whatever the length. Speedy medical consideration must be sought if that is the kid’s first febrile seizure. If this has occurred earlier than, observe the recommendation given to you on presentation of the primary seizure.

Your healthcare supplier will ask you a sequence of questions concerning the seizure and the kid’s medical and household historical past and run exams as applicable. This may assist them diagnose a easy or advanced febrile seizure or a extra extreme sickness presenting with a seizure like meningitis or encephalitis.

As soon as the preliminary an infection has handed, most youngsters will make a swift restoration (like mine did).

A observe on febrile seizures in youngsters

Following my son’s expertise with a febrile seizure, I’ve grow to be way more delicate round diseases that he picks up. A standard chilly, for instance, is now one thing of a purple flag. I’ve observed I measure his temperature way more ceaselessly and I’m administering treatment on the earliest signal of discomfort. This may occasionally appear a bit excessive because the science doesn’t counsel that is essentially more practical, however the ‘mama bear’ intuition is actual. 

Basically, one of the simplest ways we are able to present for our kids is to coach ourselves about febrile seizures in order that we’re ready to behave calmly and effectively and to hunt medical assist as applicable. 

Featured consultants

Hamad Husainy, DO, FACEP, a practising emergency doctor in Alabama and a spokesperson for the American School of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

Ashlesha Kaushik, MD, FAAP is an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nationwide spokesperson, pediatric infectious illness specialist and Scientific Assistant Professor of Pediatrics on the College of Iowa.


Eilbert W, Chan C. Febrile seizures: A overview. J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open. 2022;3(4):e12769. Printed 2022 Aug 23. doi:10.1002/emp2.12769

Rice SA, Müller RM, Jeschke S, et al. Febrile seizures: perceptions and data of oldsters of affected and unaffected youngsters. Eur J Pediatr. 2022;181(4):1487-1495. doi:10.1007/s00431-021-04335-1

Sawires R, Buttery J, Fahey M. A Evaluation of Febrile Seizures: Current Advances in Understanding of Febrile Seizure Pathophysiology and Generally Implicated Viral Triggers. Entrance Pediatr. 2022;9:801321. Printed 2022 Jan 13. doi:10.3389/fped.2021.801321

Xixis KL, Samanta D, Keenaghan M. Febrile seizure. [Updated 2022 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.