Banner Health Services  

Febrile seizures


Tamara Zach is a pediatric neurologist on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (480) 412-7400.

Question: What is a febrile seizure and how I should react if my child experiences one of these seizures?

Answer: Febrile seizures occur in children when their body temperature suddenly spikes, typically from some fever-inducing infection. During a febrile seizure, children often lose consciousness and experience full body shakes. The majority of these seizures last only a minute or two, but can range in duration from a few seconds to 10 minutes or more.

Febrile seizures are the most common type of seizures in humans, usually occurring in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Roughly one in 25 children will experience at least one febrile seizure. While it can be incredibly frightening for parents to witness their child having a seizure, the majority of these seizures are harmless. Simple febrile seizures do not cause any damage to the brain, lead to learning disabilities, or decrease intelligence, according to research studies.

A febrile seizure can be hard to predict, especially since it may be the first sign that a child is sick. So, it's important that parents do not blame themselves for not preventing these seizures from occurring. The best way to prevent a febrile seizure is to control your child's fever by giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed by your pediatrician.

If you recognize or suspect a seizure, make sure your child is in an area where he/she won't get hurt from thrashing around, and do not put anything in the child's mouth. Instead, place the child on his/her side so that the child doesn't choke on his/her tongue, saliva or vomit. Also, try to time the seizure. If it lasts longer than three minutes, call 911. If the seizure stops after a couple of minutes and the child is conscious, call your pediatrician. Always let your pediatrician know if your child experiences a seizure.

Please keep in mind that febrile seizures do not indicate epilepsy. By and large, children who experience febrile seizures are no more likely to develop epilepsy than the general population.

Page Last Modified: 09/08/2011
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