Febrile Seizures: What Are They and How Can They Be Prevented?

Febrile seizures are one of the most common types of seizures in children. Even if they are common in nature, they are nowhere less stressful. Especially when it comes to a child suffering from seizures, it becomes a challenging task to handle and worry about the kid at the same time. 

What is a febrile seizure? 
A febrile seizure is a type of seizure that occurs in healthy kids who are between the age of 6 months to 5 years. The condition may be associated with an illness related to a fever already present or a kind of brain infection that may have been inflicting internal pain for the child. Febrile seizures usually occur along with other illnesses including fever, headaches, meningitis, head trauma, low sugar or any other health problems. You will be surprised to know that febrile seizures affect 2 to 5% of children between the age group of 6 months to 5 years. 

What are the different kinds of febrile seizures in children? 
There are several types of febrile seizures in children which can be differentiated based on their associated symptoms. Some of the most common types of febrile seizures include simple febrile seizures, complex febrile seizures and febrile status epilepticus. 

Simple febrile seizures: As the name suggests, simple febrile seizures are generalized where everything starts shaking at once. They generally last for less than 15 minutes and only occur once during an illness or once in 24 hours. 

Complex febrile seizures: Opposite to simple febrile seizures, the complex febrile seizures last longer than 15 minutes and have a focal onset. They occur when one part of the body starts to shake and spreads slowly to the rest of the body. Complex febrile seizures occur more than once during the same illness or several times in 24 hours. 

Febrile status epilepticus: Contrary to simple and complex febrile seizures, febrile status epilepticus last for more than 30 minutes and can cause serious injuries in children. 

Can febrile seizures cause brain damage in children? 
There is not a higher risk of brain damage in children with simple or complex febrile seizures. However, children who suffer from febrile status epilepticus can be an exception and suffer from serious brain injuries that may require a neurological emergency where your child might be required to go to the emergency room.

Simple and complex febrile seizures do not cause any developmental or behavioural problems in children but febrile status epilepticus can be a serious situation that requires proper diagnosis and treatments from the best paediatric neurologist in India. 

Is my child at an increased risk of epilepsy caused by febrile seizures? 
Epilepsy refers to a condition where a child has struggled through two or more seizures that are not caused by any other illness, infection, trauma or other health problems. Epilepsy occurs in 1 to 2% of children and adults. 

As per experts, most children may showcase a slight increase in the risk of developing epilepsy after suffering from simple febrile seizures. However, this number is limited to 2% to 5% of children. It is hard to state that your child may have an increased risk of epilepsy caused by febrile seizures. Nevertheless, your child may have a higher risk of epilepsy if your child suffers from a complex febrile seizure and has experienced developmental delays before having a complex febrile seizure. Your child may have a higher risk of epilepsy if and when your Neurologist suggest that your child has an abnormal neurologic exam or finds out a link to the family history of epilepsy in the blood relations of the child. 

When should my child see a paediatric neurologist? 
Not all kids who have experienced febrile seizures need to see a paediatric neurologist. It’s mandatory to visit the best paediatric neurologist in India if your child experienced a complex febrile seizure or febrile status epilepticus. A complex febrile seizure or febrile status epilepticus may have a higher risk of developing epilepsy which requires immediate diagnosis. 

The majority of kids who have experienced febrile seizures continue to have normal development and can be under the care of a paediatrician. They can be prevented with the help of the best paediatric neurologist.