Under the age of five or six, children have an immature nervous system and many of the nerves have yet to develop their fatty insulating sheaths.

The effect on the brain of a high temperature from an infection may produce a convulsion whereas in an older child or an adult it may cause delirium.

These seizures are identical with fits from epilepsy, but only 2 to 3 per cent of children with febrile convulsions go on to develop later epilepsy.

There are good reasons for putting children who have had a febrile convulsion on drugs in an effort to prevent a recurrence with the next feverish episode as 30 to 40 per cent of such children will go on to have more.

Once the nervous system is mature, the drugs can be stopped.

A convulsion in a child may be a frightening experience for the parent and many panic.

If a child convulses with no history of epilepsy, there is a good chance that it is a febrile convulsion, particularly if the child feels hot to the touch. Rapidly reducing the temperature may stop the convulsion.

One way to do this is to strip all the clothes from the child, sponge him down with tepid or lukewarm water and fan him dry.

As the water evaporates from the skin, it takes heat out of the body and so cools it. Placing the child in a cold bath may cause constriction of the blood vessels in the skin and so heat may not be lost so rapidly.

Once the temperature drops, the convulsion usually stops and medical advice can be obtained.


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