Do Febrile Seizures Cause Damage to the Brain?

What are Febrile Seizures?

Febrile Seizures are convulsions that result due to high fever in children. The sudden spike in body temperature causes the child to have seizures. It is also known by the name of Febrile Convulsions. A child having febrile seizures does not mean that he or she is suffering from epilepsy as these convulsions occur only at the time of an illness when children develop very high fever. Majority of the cases of febrile seizures occur in children between the ages of six months and five years [3].

Over the years as the number of cases of febrile seizures have risen has posed a big challenge in front of pediatrics in terms of managing this condition and what is the right approach towards treatment. However, with more and more research data now available online and the growing awareness of parents has led to them being better prepared for episodes of febrile seizures [1].

Various studies have been published highlighting the approaches that physicians should take towards evaluating and managing febrile seizures. Generally speaking, febrile seizures are benign; however, can Febrile Seizures cause damage to the brain is what has been discussed in the article below [1].

Do Febrile Seizures Cause Damage to the Brain?

In most of the cases of febrile seizures, the episode lasts just for a couple of minutes and stops. In such instances, there are no long term sequelae observed. There is a chance that the child may sustain cuts and bruises due to jerking of the extremities during an episode of febrile seizure. In some cases, the child may also choke on the saliva but these can be treated by utilizing proper first aid measures for seizures [2].

As of now, there is no evidence to suggest that febrile seizures can cause significant damage to the brain. Various studies conducted in this regard have all come to a conclusion that even those seizures that last for a much longer time period does not affect the performance of the child in school or home. These children can perform as well or even better than those children who do not have such a problem [2].

The recovery post a febrile seizure is complete without any resultant problems. Children who have recurrent episodes of febrile seizures tend to be at risk for developing epilepsy at a later age but even this is extremely rare. Epilepsy is seen more in children with an underlying neurological disorder like cerebral palsy or delayed development who have febrile seizures [2].

Again, the likelihood of a child developing febrile seizures increases if the child has brief but full body febrile seizures. Children who have febrile seizures that last for more than 10 minutes or have recurrence of febrile seizures within a span of 24 hours also are at increased risk of developing epilepsy later on in life. The risk is estimated to be about 10% in these children [2].

However, this percentage increases to an alarming 40% in children who have an episode of febrile seizure that lasts for more than 30 minutes at a time even though it may take years for them to develop epilepsy. In some studies it has been reported that prolonged febrile seizures do have the potential to inflict some damage to the hippocampus, although there is no current data for such [2].

In conclusion, febrile seizures are completely benign and do not cause any damage to the brain. If the affected child already has a neurological disorder like cerebral palsy then there is a chance that the child may develop epilepsy later on in life [2].

In some studies there is a mention of some damage being inflicted on the hippocampus in the brain however there is no substantiated proof of this. Other than that, children with febrile seizures have the same intellect as others who do have this condition and can even outperform them both academically and socially [2].

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