First Fever Seizure in a Child

Topic Overview

Fever seizures occur when a child's body temperature increases too quickly. Fever seizures can be frightening to see but they are not usually harmful to the child and do not cause long-term problems, such as brain damage, mental retardation, or learning problems.

A seizure is more likely to have been caused by a fever if the seizure occurred within 24 hours of the start of a fever. Fever seizures usually affect the whole body, not just one side. Most children have never had a fever seizure before and they also do not have other nervous system (neurologic) problems. Fever seizures are more common in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

A rapidly rising body temperature can be caused by many illnesses, ranging from minor to serious. Most fever seizures are not life-threatening, even if the child has difficulty breathing or if his or her skin turns bluish from lack of oxygen during the seizure. Most fever seizures will not need medical treatment, but report the seizure to your child's health professional.

Most children become tired and want to go to sleep after having a seizure. If a serious illness is present, other symptoms in addition to fever and sleepiness are usually present or will develop quickly.

Credits

Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Updated April 21, 2009

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