Febrile convulsions occur when there is a sharp increase in a child's body temperature, which is usually due to infection. The convulsion will cause the child's body to shake and become stiff, jerky and blue, and they may lose consciousness.
Although a febrile convulsion is a frightening experience for both mother and child, they are in fact a relatively common occurrence and affect one in 20 children, usually between the ages of one and four.
However, babies as young as six months, or children as old as five years, can also be affected.
A febrile convulsion will normally last a few minutes, after which time the child's body will stop shaking, consciousness will return and the body will return to a normal colour.
While the attack is happening, parents should not intervene or attempt to restrain the child. However, it is advisable to turn the child's head to the side to prevent choking. Once the attack has finished, the child should be placed in the recovery position.
There are factors that make some children susceptible to febrile convulsions. These include suffering from a particularly high number of fevers, or having a parent who experienced attacks during childhood. Additionally, children who have their first attack alongside a relatively low body temperature are also more likely to suffer an attack again.
Most children will outgrow febrile convulsions by the time they reach school age. However, a doctor should always be consulted after the first attack and, if attacks worsen over time, medical help should also be sought.