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Febrile seizures are convulsions induced by a fever in infants or young children. They are the most common type of seizure during childhood. While febrile seizures are usually benign, they are often very upsetting to parents. There are several operational definitions of febrile seizures


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Practice Parameter: "A simple febrile seizure is a generalized seizure occurring in an infant or child between the ages of six months and five years, lasting less than 15 minutes and occurring only once in 24 hours. The child should not have an intracranial infection or a severe metabolic disturbance."1

  2. The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE): "A seizure occurring in childhood after one month of age, associated with a febrile illness not caused by an infection of the central nervous system, without previous neonatal seizures or a previous unprovoked seizure, and not meeting criteria for other acute symptomatic seizures."2


Both definitions exclude seizures with fever in children who have previously had seizures unrelated to fever and do not exclude children with prior neurological impairment. Although these two definitions are similar, there is a discrepancy regarding the lower age limit of first seizure onset (3 months versus 1 month). The three critical elements of febrile seizures are shown in Table 4-1.

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Table 4–1. Three Critical Elements of Febrile Seizures

Epidemiologic studies show that approximately 3% to 4% of children have at least one febrile seizure by 7 years of age....

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