For Parents

Seizures, Fevers, and Other Conditions

Febrile (fever-caused) seizures affect many children between the ages of 3 months and 6 years. Febrile seizures are not the same as epilepsy, although in rare cases they may be the first seizures experienced by a child who develops epilepsy later on.

Febrile seizures occur when a child’s temperature rises rapidly, usually to 102 degrees or higher. There is often a family history of febrile seizures; they are most common around 18 months of age and affect between 3 and 4 percent of all children. Thirty to 40 percent of children who have a febrile seizure will have another one, but most children grow out of the tendency as they grow older. About 3 percent of children with febrile seizures go on to develop epilepsy.

In children with epilepsy, fever (as well as some drugs, medications and sleep deprivation) may trigger seizures.

Seizures and other conditions

Having a seizure is a sign of an underlying condition in the brain. In many cases it is the only sign of a brain disorder. In other cases it may be just one of many symptoms.

Common brain conditions that may also be associated with seizures include tuberous sclerosis, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and neurofibromatosis.

Epilepsy associated with other brain disorders is usually treated in the same way as epilepsy from an unknown cause.