Convulsion terror: Will it happen whenever she has a temperature?

Our 15-month-old daughter has just spent two nights in a children's ward after she had a convulsion, which started when she had a cold and sore throat. She had a high temperature and then started shaking and her breathing because noisy. She was unconscious, or nearly unconscious, for a couple of minutes, before the shaking stopped and she gradually came round. We called an ambulance which arrived quickly, but by then the convulsion had stopped. She was given a blood test, but nothing was found and it was put down to a high fever it was a febrile convulsion. The whole experience was very frightening, but she does not seem to have come to any harm. However, we are now terrified that the same thing will happen the next time she develops a temperature.

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Febrile convulsions are fits that occur in young children when they develop a fever. About one in 20 children will get at least one febrile convulsion by the time they are five. For children and their parents the convulsion is frightening and worrying. Fortunately, these convulsions only last for a minute or two and they very rarely cause any harm or long-term damage. And the great majority of children who have febrile convulsions do not develop epilepsy later in life. The best way to protect against another convulsion is by paying careful attention to your child's temperature whenever they are ill. At the first sign of any illness, give a dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen and continue with regular doses until the illness is gone. Remove heavy clothing and gently sponge the child's body and face with tepid water. This helps to keep the temperature down. If a convulsion does occur, don't panic. If it lasts for more than a minute or two, you should call an ambulance. As children get older the risk of febrile convulsions decreases, and they are rare after the age of five or six.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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