What are febrile convulsions?

These are generalised convulsions caused by a high temperature. Often there is an obvious cause of the fever, e.g. upper respiratory tract infection. The child is usually between 6 months and 5 years old and there may be a family history of febrile convulsions. Some children have febrile convulsions whenever they have a viral infection with a high fever. Usually the convulsion does not last longer than 15 minutes and there are no other abnormal neurological signs after the child recovers from the convulsion.

Management is to lower the fever and reassure the parents. Given paracetamol (Panado) when the child is ill to keep the temperature normal. Do not use aspirin. Children usually outgrow febrile convulsions. Oral anticonvulsants are usually not used to prevent febrile convulsions.

If the child is over 18 months, has a typical repeat febrile convulsion and there are no meningeal signs, a lumbar puncture is not needed.

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