Fever seizures

Fever seizures (febrile seizures) are uncontrolled muscle spasms and unresponsiveness in a child that are caused by a rapid increase in body temperature. They usually last 1 to 3 minutes and are seldom serious.

Fevers that lead to a fever seizure may develop so quickly that parents did not even realize that their child's temperature was rising. After a fever has reached a high temperature, the risk of a seizure is probably over.

Fever seizures are not a form of epilepsy. A seizure is likely to be fever-related if it meets the following guidelines:

  • The seizure happened within 24 hours of the start of a fever.
  • The seizure lasted less than 3 minutes.
  • The seizure affected the entire body, not just one side of the body.
  • The child is between 6 months and 6 years old.
  • The child does not have nervous system (neurological) problems.
  • The child has had fever seizures before.

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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