Febrile Seizure: Symptoms, Causes And Complications

Febrile Seizure occurs in children of 3 months to 3 years. Know what is the cause and complications of febrile seizure.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jul 08, 2021Updated at: Jul 08, 2021
Febrile Seizure: Symptoms, Causes And Complications

Children are very sensitive and equally vulnerable to diseases and infection. Infants can especially catch infection very quickly as their immune system is not fully developed and is comparatively weaker than adults. There are a few diseases that are children specific and happen to a number of children in age between 3 months to 3 years. One among them is febrile seizure; it is a condition where the child or infant gets high fever and has convulsions that makes the child very uncomfortable and irritated. Febrile seizure occurs when a child is going through an illness and is most common between 12-18 months of age. Let us know from a paediatrician about febrile seizure and how does it affect the health of the child.

Inputs from Dr. Yashi Malhotra, Clinical Paediatrician from Fatima Hospital, Lucknow

How Febrile Seizure Occurs?

Febrile seizure can occur due to a number of reason most of them are some illness which the child goes through. But in most cases febrile seizure occurs because of rise in body temperature, even low grade fever can be cause of febrile seizure and can trigger it well. Other than that, the most common causes include infection and post vaccinations.


Infection- Viral infection can be a cause of seizure in children. Children are vulnerable to viral infections and bacteria a lot which can stick around and cause febrile seizure to the. Seizures are usually triggered by one of the viral infections. Influenza virus accompanied by high fevers is the reason of having febrile seizure in most children when it is because of viral infection.

Post Vaccination Seizures- The risk of febrile seizure increases after some vaccination which the child gets in the childhood. It can include diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccination and measles-mump-rubella vaccine are some common examples in which this seizure is involved. However it is not the vaccine that causes seizure but the fever after the vaccination is responsible for febrile seizure.

Also Read- 5 Signs That Show Your Baby's Stomach Is Full

Symptoms of Febrile Seizure

There are very few symptoms that can determine the symptoms of this disease. It is even more difficult in children when the child is suffering from another infection. The child may get very stiff or twitch from one area of the body. The symptoms can include-

  • Fever above 100.4 degree F
  • Lose of consciousness
  • Shaking or jerking of arms and legs at rapid rate.

Febrile seizures are also classified into two categories

1. Simple febrile seizure- This happens a lot in children and lasts for 10-15 minutes. Most of the times, it is not fatal and goes within few minutes. Simple febrile seizure does not occur regularly as they are not specific to a particular body part.

2. Complex Febrile Seizures- This is more serious situation where the seizure lasts for more than 15 minutes and can cause healthy difficulty to the child. Complex febrile seizures are frequent seizures which can occur at regular intervals and cause irritability among the children.

Also Read- Hernia in Children: Symptoms, Risks & Treatment

When to see a Doctor for Febrile Seizure?

If the child gets febrile seizure, you should take him to the doctor immediately. The doctor can examine the baby and make you aware of an underlying cause if there is any. Especially if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, then it is better to consult a child doctor. Other symptoms that can show serious febrile seizure are

  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck of the child
  • Breathing issues 
  • Extreme sleepiness


Complications of Febrile Seizure

Majority of the febrile seizure causes in the child does not show any long lasting effects. It can happen for a few minutes and can then go away. Even though simple seizure does not affect the brain or any part of the body evidently, the complex febrile seizure can affect the brain and cognitive functioning of it. Complications can also include intellectual disability, learning disabilities and underlying disorders.

The most common complication of febrile seizure is recurrent febrile seizure. This means when the frequency of seizures increases then the risk on the child also increases. The risk of recurrent febrile seizure is higher in case of the following-

  • First seizure of your child was due to low grade fever
  • Febrile seizure being a sign for illness
  • Having this disease with an immediate family member being infected by it before
  • If the child is younger than 18 months when he got his first febrile seizure



Febrile Seizure occurs due to pre-existing illness or fever. Most common cause of it is fever which further extends to having seizure among children. It can be of two types, simple febrile seizure or complex febrile seizure. Febrile seizure can cause complication in case of complex febrile seizure when it remains for more than 15 minutes. Recurrent febrile seizure is harmful for the health of the child or infant. It can be caused due to an infection or post-vaccination fever. Take your child to a paediatrician as soon as you witness symptoms of febrile seizure in the baby.

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