In this section
A febrile convulsion is a fit or seizure caused by a
fever. They are caused by a sudden change in your child's body
temperature and are usually associated with a fever
(a temperature above 38°C). A high temperature is a
sign of infection somewhere in the body and is often
caused by a virus or bacteria. A high fever does not
necessarily mean your child has a serious illness. Fever is
not known to cause damage to the brain or other organs.
Most children with fever suffer only minor discomfort, however one child in 30 will have a febrile convulsion at one time or another.
This usually happens between the ages of six months and six years.
Febrile convulsions are not harmful to your child and do not
cause brain damage. They are, however, quite upsetting to parents
Most children who have a febrile convulsion will only ever have just one.
Some children will have one or more
seizures, usually during illnesses which cause
a fever. There is no increased risk of epilepsy in children
who have had febrile convulsions.
During a febrile convulsion:
When the movements stop, your child will regain consciousness
but will probably remain sleepy or irritated afterwards.
There is nothing you can do to make the convulsion stop.
Call an ambulance on 000
If the convulsion stops in less than five minutes:
It may be okay to take the child in your own car but only do
this if there are two adults, one to drive and one to look
after the child. Drive very carefully. A few minutes longer will
not make any important difference.
Since a fever is the body's natural response to infection, it is
not always necessary to reduce a fever. Treatment of a
fever with paracetamol or ibuprofen does not prevent a febrile
convulsion. However, if your child is very uncomfortable,
you can follow the simple steps found on the Kids Health Info factsheet: Fever in
Developed in consultation with
the RCH departments: General
Medicine, Centre for Community Child
Health, Emergency Department. First published August
2003. Reviewed August 2008.