Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Febrile seizures

Stepped out of the shower this morning to hear my wife yelling my name. (Even in the best of circumstances, that’s not a Good Thing.) My youngest son (21 months old) was having a seizure — full-blown, eyes rolled up into his head, rigid body, rhythmic twitching from head to toe.

He was completely unresponsive. It was terrifying.

Thanks to our wonderful emergency response team in Naperville, paramedics, policemen and firemen were at the house within three minutes. After giving him oxygen, they were able to stop the seizure and get him stabilized; a few hours at the hospital and some tests confirmed that we had just experienced a febrile seizure.

For parents of young children, the statistics are shocking: 1 in 25 children experience febrile seizures. Fortunately they are almost always benign, but the parental terror is real.

We have taken it easy today, trying hard to keep everyone relaxed. Robby is doing pretty well; the fever recently broke and he’s getting more responsive with each hour. We’re hoping for an uneventful evening.


  1. You poor, traumatized things! Good thoughts to you all.

  2. [shock] That's some scary morning! Hope everything's OK.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. I'm happy to report that Robby is doing quite well. As the write-ups on the web suggest, the seizures rarely do actual damage and rarely recur in a short period of time.

    Of course, the older son picked a fine time to have a fever of his own...



  4. Not a good way to start the day...or the holidays. I am glad to hear he is better!

  5. For some reason I haven't seen your blog before, Rick. (And you should put your RSS feed button near the top of the page, instead of near the bottom. Who knows...I might have come to your house party, although there was one here in Homewood that I didn't get to, but such is life.)

    My firstborn had 1 fever convulsion (after spiking about 105+) at about 6 months. This being a long time ago (about 36 years) we were told that phenobarbitol was useful as a preventive when the fever rose above 103. And we did that for the next three years until he had an adnoidectomy which cured the recurrent fever problem. After which we were told (by another doc) that phenobarbitol was very dangerous and NOT to use it at all. Neither the convulsion nor the phenobarbitol seems to have hurt him much, but holding a kid who is convulsing like that is REALLY SCAREY. Hope you don't have to go through it again.

  6. My youngest son (will be 3 on 3/7/04) had his 7th & 8th febrile seizures on 12/28/03. His first one happened on 12/23/02. He was 21 months with his first one. It was not until the 5th one (in June) that the Pediatrician sent us to the Pediatric Neurologist. After a basic assessment (in the office) and a EEG (to rule out epilepsy) it was confirmed that they are and have all been "just" febrile seizures.

    The medical community as a whole has not been very helpful in my opinion so I have done extensive research through medical journals and online.

    The seizures that he had on Sunday was the first time that more than one occured with a single fever.

    They are horrifying and even after repeated seizures it never gets any easier to see your child going through one.

    My best wishes and thoughts for you and your family and I hope that you will not have to go through more of these as my family has.

  7. Jennifer - Scary stuff. Some odd coincidences - our oldest's birthday is 3/7, and Robby's first seizure was on 12/23 ('03, not '02). At 21 months.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. We're hopeful that this is something that goes away on its own, but I tend to agree that the medical community doesn't have a lot of reassuring info on the subject. "Wait and see" isn't exactly the most encouraging advice, no matter how accurate it is!


  8. My family just experienced the same thing this past Saturday. Our 16 month old daughter had a seizure and actually stopped breathing. It was the most scared I have ever been. It is nice to hear similar experiences, I was a little put off with the speed at which they dismissed us from the hospital. It is SO hard to believe that they are "harmless" ! I pray for no more fevers (or at least seizures) in your house and mine!

  9. My daughter is now 12. She had febrile seizures from the time she was 5mo-5yrs, and lots of them. Yes, the Doctors don't offer much reassurance, fortunately they do go away. I've been trying to find out if there has been any research on long-term effects? (I believe there are.) She has trouble with focusing and comprehension, thus making school very hard for her.
    Has any one else experienced similar effects?

  10. My 16-month-old daughter had a febrile seizure a little over a week ago. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she turned blue. My husband and I were terrified.

    I had read about febrile seizures and knew that was what was happening to her, and she is fine now. But I'm not. Intellectually, I know these seizures are supposed to be harmless, but I'm literally losing sleep over this.

    I think we're going to take her to a pediatric neurologist. I need to feel like I have all the information I can possibly get.

  11. Becky - Good luck. I still remember the first few weeks after Robby's first seizure. It's never easy to accept that the seizures are harmless, though in our case, that's what they were - each and every time. Robby's now 5, and hasn't had a seizure in 18 months. We still watch fevers like a hawk, but he seems to have come through it without any lasting effects.

    Again, best of luck!

  12. my 10 month old just had his first (and hopefully) last yesterday night.
    We didn't know what was going on. The scary part was after, seeing him look unconscious. He came out of that state before the paramedics arrived, but we spend all night in the ER just making sure he was OK. Thanks for this post, it's helpful to see how others have been through this and all.