Kids Health Info

Febrile convulsions - frequently asked questions

  • If my child has a febrile convulsion, does that mean they have epilepsy?

    No. Febrile convulsions are fits or seizures that occur only with a fever.  Children with epilepsy have repeated seizures without fever.  Most children who experience febrile convulsion only ever have one.  Some may have one or more febrile convulsions during future febrile illnesses, however, a febrile convulsion will not necessarily occur every time the child has a fever.  Children who have infrequent febrile convulsions do not have an increased risk of epilepsy.

    Do febrile convulsions cause brain damage?

    No. No matter how dramatic and frightening febrile convulsions may look, they do not cause brain damage. Even very long convulsions lasting an hour or more almost never cause any harm.

    If my child has one febrile convulsion, will it happen again?

    About one in three children will have more febrile convulsions with future febrile illnesses.  Even if your child has many febrile convulsions, it still does not mean they have epilepsy.  Your child will outgrow the tendency to have febrile convulsions when they are about four or five years old.  If your child has experienced a febrile convulsion, it is important for you to learn what to do if your child does have another.

    Once the convulsion is over, does my child need special treatment?

    Your child may be a bit cranky for a day or so, but this will pass. Carry on with your usual routines. Put your child to sleep at the usual time, in their own bed. Don't worry about whether you will hear a convulsion - your child will be safe in a bed or cot.  It is recommended that your child sees a doctor to find out the cause of the fever that has caused the febrile convulsion.

    Can a child who has febrile convulsions lead a normal life?

    Yes. We expect children with febrile convulsions to grow up healthily and without long term problems.

    For more information


    Developed in consultation with the RCH Neurosciences Centre and Emergency Department. First published March 2006.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.