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A febrile seizure, also known as a fever fit or febrile convulsion, is an epileptic seizure associated with a high body temperature but without any serious underlying health issue. They most commonly occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. Most seizures are less than five minutes in duration and the child is completely back to normal within sixty minutes of the event.

Febrile seizures may run in families. The diagnosis involves verifying that there is not an infection of the brain, there are no metabolic problems, and there have not been prior seizures that have occurred without a fever. There are two types of febrile seizures, simple febrile seizures and complex febrile seizures. Simple febrile seizures involve an otherwise healthy child who has at most one tonic-clonic seizure lasting less than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. Blood testing, imaging of the brain or an electroencephalogram (EEG) is typically not needed for the diagnosis. Examination to determine the source of the fever is recommended. In otherwise healthy looking children a lumbar puncture is not necessarily required.

Neither anti-seizure medication nor anti-fever medication is recommended in an effort to prevent further simple febrile seizures. In the few cases that last greater than five minutes a benzodiazepine such as lorazepam or midazolam may be used. Outcomes are generally excellent with similar academic achievements to other children and no change in the risk of death for those with simple seizures. There is tentative evidence that children have a slight increased risk of epilepsy at 2%. Febrile seizures affect two to ten percent of children before the age of five. They are more common in boys than girls. After a single febrile seizure there is a 15 to 70% chance of another one.


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