Watching a child have a febrile seizure is one of the scariest things a parent can experience. One minute, the child is acting normal or mildly sick and the next, his eyes roll up, he gets stiff all over, his lips turn blue and his body starts to shake. In most cases, a febrile seizure lasts a minute or less, but it seems much longer to the parent who’s watching it.

Febrile seizures occur in 3 percent of children between 6 months and 5 years. The seizure is triggered by the rapid rise in temperature that accompanies an illness. In some cases, parents don’t even know their child had a fever at the time of the seizure.

After the seizure has stopped, children are typically a bit floppy and “out of it” for a while. They usually start to act like themselves within 5 minutes or so.

About 30 percent of children who have a febrile seizure will have another one. Recurrences usually occur within a year of the first seizure. The younger a child is at the time of his first seizure, the more likely he will have another one.

Febrile seizures are rarely dangerous and children with simple febrile seizures don’t need to be treated with anti-seizure medication because the drugs are more dangerous than the seizures themselves. Children with complicated febrile seizures sometimes needed to be treated with medication. A complicated febrile seizure lasts more than 15 minutes, involves one side of the body or recurs within a 24-hour period.

It’s understandable that parents want to aggressively treat fever after their child has had a febrile seizure. However, research has shown that aggressive fever management does not prevent febrile seizures. The reason parents need to know this fact is because they might otherwise blame themselves, each other or baby sitters because a child had a seizure during an illness.

For more information about febrile seizures, check out the following link: