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Study Finds Fever-Related Seizures in Children Rarely Fatal

Posted by Jenny Albano
Monday, August 11, 2008 8:49 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Seizure, Fever, Death, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Children's Medications, Tylenol, Ibuprofen

febrile seizures rarely fatal

LEARN MORE

· NINDS on Febrile Seizures

· Mayo Clinic on Febrile Seizures

· The Lancer study

IMAGE SOURCE: © iStock photo/ sick child/ perkmeup

According to a study from Denmark, deaths from fever-related seizures in children are extremely rare.

Around 2 to 5 percent of children under the age of 5 will suffer from one febrile seizure. But up until now the studies completed on the subject have been too small to estimate the mortality rate for fever-related seizures.

"Parents should be reassured that death after febrile seizures is very rare, even in high-risk children," the researchers said.

Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in small children. During a febrile seizure, children frequently lose consciousness and shake. Most febrile seizures last a minute or two, although some can be as brief as a few seconds while others last for more than 15 minutes.

Febrile seizures usually occur in children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years and are particularly common in toddlers. Most children who experience febrile seizures have temperatures that exceed 102 degrees F and these seizures normally occur on the first day of the child’s fever.

Children prone to febrile seizures are not considered to have epilepsy, since epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are not triggered by fever.

The study, completed by Dr. Mogens Vestergaard and colleagues at the Aarhus University in Denmark, analyzed data on almost 1.7 million children born in Denmark from 1977 to 2004. From this pool they found 8,172 children who died during the study period, which included 232 deaths from over 55,000 children who had a history of febrile seizures.

The results from the study in The Lancet medical journal state that overall, children who have suffered from a febrile seizure were almost twice as likely as children who had not experienced a seizure to die during the next two years after the seizure. But other than that there was no increased risk and the actual amount of children to die following these seizures is exceptionally low.

According to the researchers, over a two year period there would be two deaths per 1,500 children with febrile seizures, as opposed to one death per 1,500 children in the general population.

The study also found that much depends on the type of febrile seizure that occurs. Children who suffer a seizure that lasts no more than 15 minutes without recurrence within 24 hours had a similar death rate with children in the general population.

The increased risk of death was linked to complex seizures, which are longer lasting and/or reoccurring within 24 hours. Also, deaths from these seizures were often related to pre-existing neurological abnormalities.

These findings suggest that there is not a shared cause between seizures and sudden death for children who suffer from simple febrile seizures.


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