Frequently Asked Questions : Febrile Convulsion

A febrile convulsion is a convulsion which occurs when a child has a fever. The convulsion is almost always very brief and will not cause your child any harm. However, it is important to seek medical help so that the cause of the fever can be found and the appropriate treatment given. Febrile convulsions are also called fever fits or febrile seizures.

Infants and young children are more prone to having a convulsion when they have a fever. The convulsion usually occurs as the temperature increases rapidly and most often occurs on the first day of the illness. It may be the first sign that your child is unwell.

When a child has a convulsion, they become unconscious, unaware of their surroundings, their eyes may roll back and any part of their body may jerk or twitch. Sometimes they are floppy. The convulsion usually lasts a minute or two and stops by itself.

One in three children will have a further febrile convulsion . There is no way to prevent febrile convulsions.

  • Keeping your child cool and comfortable when they have a fever may help.
  • Undress your child down to singlet and nappy/underpants.
  • Keep your child cool but do not allow shivering. Do not use cool sponges or tepid baths.
  • Encourage your child to drink.
  • Give Paracetamol if the fever is making your child uncomfortable. Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle.
  • Paracetamol may lower fever but does not prevent convulsions.

Don’t panic.

  • Place your child on a soft surface, lying on their side (recovery position).
  • Stay with your child during the convulsion.
  • Do not try to put anything in your child’s mouth during a convulsion.
  • Do not put your child in a bath to cool down.
  • Try to time how long the convulsion lasts.
  • If the convulsion does not stop within 5 minutes, call an ambulance.

Your child may be very sleepy, so it is important to keep him/her lying on their side until fully conscious. Call an ambulance if your child does not rouse quickly. Take your child to your GP as soon as possible.

Febrile convulsions do not cause epilepsy. Having a febrile convulsion does not mean that your child will develop epilepsy later in life. REMEMBER

  • Febrile Convulsions are common.
  • May reoccur in some children.
  • Cause no long term problems.
  • Do not cause brain damage or epilepsy.
  • Usually stop by six years of age.

The usual dose is 15mg of Paracetamol per kg of body weight, no more often than 4 hourly, no more than 4 doses per day.
Do not give regularly for more than two days. See your doctor if they are still feverish. For example, if your child weighs 10kg: 15mg x 10kg = 150mg 4 hourly.