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Febrile Seizures

What Are Febrile Seizures?

Febrile seizures are convulsions that can happen when a young child has a fever above 100.4°F (38°C). (Febrile means "feverish.") The seizures usually last for a few minutes and stop on their own. The fever may continue for some time.

Febrile seizures can look serious, but most stop without treatment and don't cause other health problems. Some kids might feel sleepy after one, while others feel no lasting effects.

Who Gets Febrile Seizures?

Febrile (FEH-bryle) seizures happen in kids 6 months to 5 years old. They're most common in toddlers 12–18 months old.

Kids are more likely to have a febrile seizure if:

  • They have a family history of febrile seizures.
  • They've already had one. About 1 in every 3 kids who have had one febrile seizure will have another, usually within 1–2 years of the first.
  • They had a first febrile seizure when they were younger than 15 months old.

Most children outgrow having febrile seizures by the time they are 5 years old.

Febrile seizures are not considered epilepsy (seizure disorder). Kids who have a febrile seizure have only a slightly increased risk for developing epilepsy.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Febrile Seizures?

There are two types of febrile seizures:

  1. Simple febrile seizures are most common. They're usually over in a few minutes, but in rare cases can last up to 15 minutes. During this type of seizure, a child may:
      • convulse, shake, and twitch all over
      • roll the eyes
      • moan
      • become unconscious (pass out)
      • vomit or urinate (pee) during the convulsions
  2. Complex febrile seizures last longer than 10 minutes, happen more than once in 24 hours, and involve movement or twitching of only one part or one side of the body.
  3. What Causes Febrile Seizures?

    No one knows why febrile seizures happen. But evidence suggests that they're linked to some