Is Febrile Convulsion Normal in Babies?

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Ever seen shakiness or sudden throwing of your baby’s body up while he or she has high fever or before getting a fever? Well, it could be the febrile convulsion which can occur in babies from as small as 6 months old up to 5 or 6 years.

What is febrile convulsion?

Febrile convulsions, febrile seizures or fits are not the normal fits or epilepsy which is known to cause brain damage. This occurs only during a high fever and does not cause any harm to the brain.

febrile convulsion

I noticed this in my son when he was around 4 months. He had fever after one of his vaccinations. Read to get the FREE printable vaccination chart plus catch up schedules.

At first, we couldn’t understand whether it was convulsions or usual shaking of baby due to the injection in the thigh since it lasted only less than 5 seconds on the whole. When we noticed this the next time he had his fever, we consulted the paediatrician.

Causes of febrile convulsion:

When the infant or kid gets a fever, after a vaccination or due to any other infection, the temperature will go up and above the normal body temperature. For some children, the rate at which the temperature rises is very high, that the brain cannot tolerate the sudden rise.

For example, if the baby’s temperature is at 97 degree Fahrenheit and it rises to 100 rapidly, usually the brain shows the intolerance in the form of seizures or fits. All of a sudden the baby’s body as a whole might shake, or the legs and hands alone.

Usually it will be a sign that your baby’s body is getting the temperature in a higher rate. Or many times, it can occur in the middle of a fever, between the doses of paracetamol.

Febrile convulsion symptoms:

The main symptoms of febrile convulsion in babies and toddlers include,

  • Eyes rolling up, so that only the white portion are seen
  • Jerking of hands and legs
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Stiff legs and hands

Usually febrile convulsions last for a few seconds or less than 2 minutes. Sometimes one or 2 jerks of hands and legs only.

Immediate action for febrile convulsion:

If your baby does not have a fever, while this occurred, you can check the temperature, immediately after it occurred. If it has shot up to 99 or 100, then immediately administer his pediatrician recommended drops or syrup of paracetamol. Let the dosage be as per the paediatrician, 4 ml or 8 ml based on the previous history.

The shooting up of temperature, does not stop suddenly after the paracetamol, since it takes some time to work in the body. So externally try to reduce the body temperature, by following the below methods.

  • Remove any heavy clothes on your baby. Put on a thin cotton shirt, diaper or under wear
  • Take the baby to a well-ventilated room with fan ON. Some people switch off the fan thinking the baby is shaking due to fever or chillness. Keeping the fan on helps reduce the body temperature
  • Do not put a blanket or cuddle the baby with your hands
  • Take purified water or tap water, in room temperature, in a bowl.

Dip a clean cotton kerchief and squeeze it well. Slowly press this cloth on the baby’s forehead for one or 2 seconds and remove it. Repeat this process.

The child does not like this because it is irritating to keep a cold cloth on a hot forehead. Hence the touching of forehead with this cloth can do.

If the baby does not resist, then you can keep the cloth on the forehead for about 10 minutes. This reduces the body temperature considerably, while the paracetamol internally works to reduce the temperature.

Take your baby to the pediatrician to further investigate on the infection for fever, it could be a stomach infection or cold related virus.

Febrile convulsion treatment:

Febrile convulsions occur only during a fever or before a fever. It does not show up when your child is healthy.

If there are any convulsions noticed on normal health, please take the child to the paediatrician or paediatric neurologists.

Usually the treatments of febrile convulsions are not to treat the convulsions, but to suppress the brain to react to that high temperature.

Frisium 5 drug is usually suggested to kids who are prone to have febrile convulsions for every fever. This does not reduce the fever but suppresses the sudden intolerance to high temperature in brain.

The dosage should be very small for kids under 6 years, hence doctors usually suggest half tablet per day, not more than 3 or 5 days.

Kindly DO NOT try these medicines on your baby or toddler unless suggested by your pediatrician.

Tips to avoid convulsions in babies and toddlers:

Always monitor the baby’s temperature, if you suspect an oncoming fever, due to cold or any stomach disorders like diarrhea. If you feel there is temperature, administer the paracetamol as a precaution and this will allow some time to suppress the temperature, before it rises rapidly.

Always maintain the gap perfectly for the dosage of paracetamol in babies. If your paediatrician advised to give every 4 hours, please maintain it promptly for first and second day of fever, so that the body temperature do not rise  in between the dosages.

During usual fever, keeping a wet cloth on the forehead can be followed. This does not harm the baby.

Summary:

To look at your child having the convulsions could be the most painful for a parent.

Please keep in mind that, febrile convulsions are common in babies and toddlers during high fever.

  • The baby does not have any pain or discomfort during the convulsions
  • The febrile convulsion does not damage the brain and the child will grow up healthy
  • Most children do not need any drugs
  • This is not the regular fits or epilepsy, and no regular drugs are to be followed. This will not occur as the baby grows, for some it might stop by when they are 3 or 4 years itself.
  • For some kids, convulsions can go up to 6 or 7 years of age. Later they won’t get any convulsions during a fever, as the brain is not that sensitive as compared to their childhood.

Also read,

Hope the article on febrile convulsion or febrile seizures was informative. Kindly share this article on your Facebook and Twitter to spread a word among your loved ones.

About Author

Durga is a software professional turned home maker, currently living in Germany, with husband and almost 4 year old son Jayadev. She wants to share every bit of parenting ideas that is being gathered over the mom-years for the benefit of new parents.

6 Comments

  1. My Brother had febrile convulsion as a baby. I still do remember how painful it was to see him suffer when he had high temperatures. We all used to cry. His Doctor told that if he continues to have it after 6-7 years of age then it wouldn’t be that good for his health. With gods grace he never had febrile convulsions after 3 years of age. Now he has completed his college and is all healthy and good. Touchwood. 🙂

  2. Thoughi had read high fever can lead to convulsions in kids, I had never expected to see it happen to my boy. But it once happened and i still feel the shock when i think of that day!!!
    Thnks for sharing this article. Every mother should be aware of these points. Would love to add these points too as advised by my sons doc.
    Since the chances of kids to have it again until about 5 years of age is more, always carry his emergency paracetamol, suppository and thermometer in the bag during long travels and stock up at home.
    Make sure to bring down his temperature under control by sponging him with wet clth even if he may resist and cry.
    In case if convulsions occur, dont panic, lie him down on the side until it stops or else the liquid tht comes out may choke him. Wait for a few minutes and then take him to hospital. He may remain unconscious for sometime.

    • Hi Bilna,

      Completely understand your shock, since I had it too. But the doctors made us feel good by explaining well. And I remember taking my child to the emergency ward rather than an OP everytime.

      Thanks for your added information. Especially the readiness of thermometer and suppositories.

      I had tried suppositories for my son, but they too act quite slower. Sponging is the best option at the emergency, and it does not harm the baby.

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