A sudden change in your child’s body temperature-usually prompted by a fever-can cause them to have a fit or seizure. These are called febrile convulsions. They are not harmful or dangerous to your child, but they can be very frightening for parents to witness. One in 30 children with a high fever (39+) will have a febrile convulsion. There is no risk of brain damage or complications.
Do not put your child in a bath to lower their temperature.
Signs and symptoms
Febrile convulsions are most common in children aged between six months and six years. During a febrile convulsion, which can last several minutes, your child may:
-Go red or blue in the face.
-Muscles may stiffen or jerk.
Try not to panic if your child has a febrile convulsion. Remember, it is not harming them and they are not in danger. Keep your child lying on their back on a soft surface and closely observe what’s happening . This will enable you to give your doctor a detailed account of what happened. You may choose to record the episode with your phone camera so that your doctor has an accurate picture of what took place.
-Restrain your child.
-Put your fingers, or anything else, in their mouth. They will not choke or swallow their tongue.
When to seek medical advice –
Make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible if the febrile convulsion lasts less than five minutes.
Call and ambulance immediately IF
-Your child was very unwell before the convulsion and the convulsion was less than five minutes long.
-It is the first time your child has had a febrile convulsion.
-Your child does not wake up after the febrile convulsion.
-Your child looks very unwell after the convulsion.
…and how to maintain perspective!
Remember that, while they are frightening to witness, febrile convulsions are not dangerous and will not cause any long term damage to your child’s brain or general health. Having a febrile convulsion does not mean your child is more likely to develop epilepsy. You can usually look after your child at home after they’ve been checked by your GP. Your child might be out of sorts and irritable for a day or two after a febrile convulsion, but they will quickly recover. You don’t need to keep your child near you or in your bed after a febrile convulsion: if they do have another convulsion, the cot or bed is a safe place to have it. If your child has a febrile convulsion, it does not mean they will continue to have them whenever their fever spikes. Most children have one febrile convulsion and then never another. Giving paracetamol or ibuprofen to a child with a fever will not prevent febrile convulsions.