What's a Febrile Convulsion? 1 in 30 children?!

What's a Febrile Convulsion? 1 in 30 children?!


When my son was 2 years old, I received a videocall from my partner, as I was at a conference.

He said, “there’s something wrong with Dylan?”

He turned the phone round to him, and he looked awful.

His face was drooping on one side, and he looked like he was having a stroke. He was very pale, not breathing properly and vacant.

I shouted at him to run to the Children’s hospital (it was just round the corner from him)

My friend and I jumped in the car and made the longest journey back from Homebush to Randwick.

I was completely panicking…. Was it meningitis? Was he choking? Had he ingested something poisonous or been bitten?

I will be forever grateful to my dear friend Dr Jennifer Cohen, the Fussy Eating Doctor, for driving fast that day!

When we were 10 mins into the journey, I got a call from my good friend who worked in the Paeds ED, and she said the magic words…. “He has a fever!”

Thank goodness! I breathed a sigh of relief, because I knew that was the best case scenario I could have hoped for.

He was going to be fine.

A febrile convulsion is a fit or seizure caused by a sudden change in your child's body temperature, and is usually associated with a fever.

one child in 30 will have a febrile convulsion as a result of fever.

Febrile convulsions most commonly happen between the ages of six months and six years.

Giving paracetamol or ibuprofen will not stop your child having a febrile convulsion, studies have shown that there has been no decrease in the rate of recurrent febrile seizures after giving paracetamol or Ibuprofen.

Signs and symptoms of febrile convulsions

During a febrile convulsion:

• your child will usually lose consciousness

• their muscles may stiffen or jerk

• your child may go red or blue in the face.

The convulsion may last for several minutes. When the movements stop, your child will regain consciousness, but they will probably remain sleepy or irritated afterwards.

Usually, a febrile convulsion happens if your child's temperature goes up suddenly. Sometimes, a convulsion

occurs before parents actually realise their child has a fever.

What to do during a convulsion

There is nothing you can do to make the convulsion stop.

• The most important thing is to stay calm – don't panic.

• Place your child on a soft surface, lying on their side or back.

• Try to watch exactly what happens, so that you can describe it to the doctor later. It can be useful if you are able to record video footage of the convulsion to show the doctor.

• Time how long the convulsion lasts, if possible.

• Do not restrain your child.

• Do not put anything in their mouth, including your fingers. Your child will not choke or swallow their tongue.

• Do not put a child who is having a convulsion in the bath to lower their temperature.

When to see a doctor

If your child’s febrile convulsion lasts less than five minutes, make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible to find out the cause of the fever that caused the convulsion.

If the convulsion was less than five minutes long and your child was very unwell before the convulsion, take them to see your GP or visit to your nearest hospital emergency department immediately.

It may be OK to take the child in your own car, but only do this if there are two adults – one to drive and one to look after the child.

Drive very carefully. A few minutes longer will not make any important difference.

Call an ambulance immediately if:

• it is your child's first convulsion

• the convulsion lasts more than five minutes

• your child does not wake up when the convulsion stops

• your child looks very sick when the convulsion stops.

Occasionally, children who have had a long convulsion need to be watched in hospital for a while afterwards. This is usually to work out the cause of the fever and watch the course of your child's illness.

Care at home

In most cases, you can look after your child at home after a doctor has seen them for a febrile convulsion.

• Your child may be a little cranky for a day or so, but this will pass.

• Resume your usual routines.

• Put your child to sleep at the usual time, in his or her own bed. Don't worry about whether you will hear a convulsion; a bed or cot is a safe place for a convulsion.

While most children will only ever have one febrile convulsion,

some children will have more than one seizure, usually during illnesses that cause a fever.

To book a class at the Nest, head on over here and you can choose to book an in home class or you can join our classes at the Children’s Clinic over at Bondi Junction, 2022.

If you would like to share your story with The Nest, click here and drop us a line….

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