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As the younger child brain is not developed, children can develop an infection in the area that regulates temperature. Febrile means related to fever and the temperature is usually always over 38 – 39 deg C. Febrile convulsions are seizures that sometimes happen in a child with a high temperature. Febrile convulsions usually happen between the ages of 6 months and 6 years; approximately 3 in every 100 children will have at least one febrile convulsion.
Febrile convulsions can be frightening for parents, especially since they look like epileptic seizures. Febrile convulsions can happen as a result of any illness that causes a high temperature, over 39C, particularly in children under the age of four. Illnesses that most commonly cause febrile convulsions include viral upper respiratory infections such as the flu and ear infections.
Children who have frequent illnesses and infections are also more likely to have febrile convulsions. Febrile convulsions may happen between 8 - 14 days after a vaccination (such as MMR). However, far more children have febrile convulsions as a result of measles itself. A febrile convulsion may be the first sign that a child has a fever. It is important to find out what illness is causing the fever as soon as possible after a seizure since there is a small chance that the cause could be meningitis. It is most common in children who are under 1 year old who does not return to normal when the seizure is over. Very few children have more than three febrile convulsions. Children are more likely to have further seizures if the first was when they were very young or if the child has a close relative (such as a parent or sibling) who had febrile convulsions. There is a slightly higher risk that they will go on to develop epilepsy, but this is very rare.
Febrile convulsions usually last less than a minute, but they can continue for up to 5 minutes. They usually happen on the first day of an illness and do not always happen when the child's temperature is hottest. In fact, a febrile convulsion is sometimes the first sign that the child is ill. Convulsions do not usually last for more than 5 minutes and the child makes a full recovery. Symptoms, however, can include the following:
Activate EMS if: