Febrile seizure

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  • 50% of patients never have temperature >39
  • Antipyretics do not offer significant improvements in recurrence rates of febrile seizures[1]
  • Febrile seizures do not increase the risk of serious bacterial illness


  • 2-3% chance of developing epilepsy (1% for general population)
  • 50% of patients <12 mo will have another simple febrile seizure
  • 30% of patients >12 mo will have another simple febrile seizure

Clinical Features

Differential Diagnosis

Pediatric seizure

  • Seizure
    • Febrile seizure
    • First-Time afebrile seizure
    • Neonatal seizure
    • Epileptic seizures
    • Seizure with VP shunt
    • Impact seizure (trauma)
    • Status epilepticus
  • Meningitis
  • Intracranial mass
  • Epidural/subdural infection or hematoma
  • Toxic ingestion
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Pyridoxine responsive seizure[2]

Pediatric fever


Algorithm for the differentiation between simple and complex febrile seizures. Guidelines for evaluation of each.

Simple versus Complex

  • Simple
    • Generalized tonic-clonic seizure
    • <15 min in duration
    • Age 6mo - 5yr
    • Occurs only once in 24hr period
    • No focal features
  • Complex
    • Any exception to above


  • Glucose in all patients

Simple febrile seizure

Complex febrile seizure


Ongoing Seizure

See Seizure (peds)

Seizure Stopped



  • Simple febrile seizure if patient at baseline
    • Follow-up in 1-2d
  • Complex febrile seizure if patient well-appearing, work-up normal
    • Follow-up in 24hr


  • Ill-appearing
  • Lethargy beyond postictal period

See Also


  1. Rosenbloom E, et al. Do antipyretics prevent the recurrence of febrile seizures in children? A systemic review of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2013; 17:585-588.
  2. Baxter P. et al. Pyridoxine‐dependent and pyridoxine‐responsive seizures. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2001, 43: 416–42