Febrile convulsions in children or babies


If the temperature is at least 38 ° C, a child may have convulsions: these are febrile convulsions. They are generally not serious and do not leave any after effects on the child’s brain, despite their impressive manifestations:

  • Symmetrical muscle spasms shake the child’s body;
  • The members move involuntarily, in a jerky and symmetrical manner;
  • The child loses consciousness or has a short absence;
  • Child’s eyes may roll over or remain fixed

The crisis can last from 1 to 5 minutes. The end of the crisis is marked by a recovery phase during which the child is sleepy and often breaths loudly. The child returns to normal within 10 minutes.


In the event of a febrile convulsion attack, certain measures should be applied:

  • Put the child in the lateral safe position (PLS): on the side, the head slightly lower than the body. This will allow an easier evacuation of saliva and prevent possible false routes as well as choking in case of vomiting;
  • Stay close to the child and monitor him so that he does not hurt himself, especially at the level of the head;
  • Support the child’s head;
  • Leave it free to move. Do not try to open his mouth and introduce nothing into it: no object that can hurt him, no medicine, or your fingers (unless it is necessary to remove a foreign body such as a toy or food)
  • Loosen his clothes and discover the child, because of his fever.
  • Note the time of the start of the febrile convulsion attack.


If the febrile seizure attack lasts less than 5 minutes and the child recovers well in less than 10 minutes, there is no need to call the emergency services. It is however recommended to consult a doctor or a pediatrician in order to make sure that this episode is indeed a febrile convulsion and to look for the cause of the fever such as for example an otitis, a chickenpox, a nasopharyngitis, a roseola,…

When to call medical emergencies? In rare cases, seizures can be accompanied by complications and should lead to an immediate emergency call (15 or 112). These “complicated” seizures occur mainly in children under the age of one.

Here is the list of complications that require the use of emergency services:

  • The child is less than 6 months old or more than 5 years old;
  • The seizure attack lasts more than 5 minutes;
  • It takes more than 10 minutes to recover from his seizure;
  • The convulsion episode is not isolated but repeated during the past 24 hours;
  • The child suffers from a neurological disease;
  • He has no fever;
  • His hands and lips were colored blue (cyanosis);
  • He has disturbed breathing;
  • Convulsions affect only one side of the body;
  • He presents with a paralysis following the convulsion;