Home > Kids > Childhood Safety > First Aid > Febrile Convulsions (Seizures)

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Febrile Convulsions (Seizures)

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: What is the cause of febrile convulsions? Will my three-year-old ever outgrow them? He has now had 12 convulsions.

A: Febrile convulsions (seizures) are actually very common. They occur in 2 to 4 percent of the population, most commonly between 18 months and 3 years of age, though they can occur as young as 6 months and as old as 5-6 years. The exact cause of febrile seizures is still not known, though we know that the young child's brain is less mature, and it's felt that the nerve cells in the brain are stimulated more easily by fever. The seizure, however, does not cause brain damage. Most children who have them are otherwise well, and only have one to three episodes over a year or two. Also, most children outgrow them by age five and do not go on to have epilepsy. If there is a history in the family of epilepsy, or if the child had any previous neurological or developmental problem, there may be a higher risk of going on to have epilepsy as he gets older. Medicine won't prevent him from developing epilepsy.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent febrile convulsions. You certainly should use acetominophen or ibuprofen when your child has a fever, but febrile seizures usually occur at the beginning of an illness, as the fever is rising, so you may not have much warning. Children who have very frequent febrile seizures may need to take an anticonvulsant (an anti-seizure medicine, which will prevent the convulsions) for a year or two, until they outgrow them. You should talk with your pediatrician about whether or not this is an option for your child.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks