Febrile Seizures | Overview

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What is a febrile seizure?

When young children have a seizure (also called a convulsion), it is often caused by a fever above 102°F (38.9°C). These are called "fever seizures" or "febrile seizures." Febrile seizures can occur in children ages 6 months to 5 years, but are most common in toddlers ages 12 months to 18 months.

Febrile seizures are frightening, but they aren't as dangerous as they may appear.

How serious are febrile seizures?

Generally, febrile seizures aren't harmful to a child. A febrile seizure doesn't cause brain damage. Also, your child can't swallow his or her tongue during a seizure (it is physically impossible for someone to swallow his or her tongue). Febrile seizures usually last a few minutes. It's very unusual for a febrile seizure to last more than 5 minutes. Usually, a child who has had a febrile seizure does not need to be hospitalized and probably does not need X-rays or a brain wave test. Your child may only need to be seen by your family doctor so the cause of the fever can be found.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 10/95

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