Incidence of Fever-Related Seizures
About 2 percent to 5 percent of children will have at least one fever-related seizure. No one knows why these seizures happen. Studies show that some may be caused by viral illness.
Fever-related seizures can also run in families.
Children who are under 12 months of age when they have their first fever-related seizure have about a 50 percent chance of having a seizure again. Just because your child has a fever-related seizure, does not mean that your child has epilepsy. A child who has had a fever-related seizure has a slightly higher chance of having epilepsy. This is more common when there is a family history of epilepsy.
If Your Child Has a Seizure
- Remain calm
- Lay your child on the bed or floor
- Remove any objects near the child that may hurt them
- Place your child on their side to keep them from choking on their spit or vomit
- Do not put anything in your child’s mouth
- You cannot swallow your tongue
- Putting medicine into your child’s mouth could cause choking
- Do not try to keep your child from moving
- Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or the child has trouble breathing
- Most children do not need to go to the emergency room
- If you are not sure if your child is OK, then have your child checked
After the Seizure
Your child may be sleepy or grouchy. If you see blood coming from their mouth, this most often means they bit their tongue or cheek. After the seizure has stopped, place a clean cloth on the area. Use gentle pressure to stop the bleeding.
Call your child’s doctor. It is vital that your child is checked to see if there is a cause for the fever that can be treated. Most children will have only one seizure within a 24-hour period. Giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat the fever will help with your child’s comfort. This medication will not necessarily prevent future seizures.
There is no proof that fever-related seizures cause brain damage. Large studies have found that children who have had fever-related seizures have normal school success. They do as well on intelligence tests as their siblings who have never had a seizure.
Fever-related seizures can be very scary to watch, but keep in mind:
- They are fairly common in children 6 months to 6 years of age
- They are most often not linked to a severe illness
- In most cases they do not lead to epilepsy or other health problems
Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns.