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Seizures and Fever (Febrile Seizures)

Seizures and Fever Overview

Febrile seizures, also known as convulsions, body spasms, or shaking, occur mainly in children and are caused by fever. (Febrile is derived from the Latin febris, meaning fever.) As with most types of seizures, the onset is dramatic, with little or no warning. In most instances, the seizure lasts only a few minutes and stops on its own.

Febrile seizures may occur because a child's developing brain is sensitive to the effects of fever. These seizures are most likely to occur with high body temperatures (higher than 102°F) but may also occur with milder fevers. The sudden rise in temperature seems to be more important than the degree of temperature. The seizure may occur with the initial onset of fever before a child’s caregiver is even aware the child is ill.

  • Seizures generally occur in those aged 3 months to 5 years; peak incidence is in infants aged 8-20 months. 

  • About 2-5% of all children will experience a febrile seizure.

  • Of those who have had a febrile seizure, 30-40% will experience more seizures.

  • About 25% have a first-degree relative with a history of febrile seizure.

  • The seizure itself is almost always harmless. It does not cause brain damage or lead to epilepsy.

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Febrile Seizures »

Febrile seizures are the most common seizure disorder in childhood.

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