Purpose: A prospective population-based case-control study was performed to ascertain whether febrile convulsion (FC) in early childhood is associated with neurocognitive attention deficits in school age.
Methods: A total of 103 children, confirmed to have FC by age 3 years from a population survey of 4,340 live-birth newborns in Tainan City, Taiwan, was followed up until at least age 6 years. An achievement test, behavioral ratings, and computerized neurocognitive battery assessing various subcomponents of attention were given to 87 FC children (FC group) and 87 randomly selected population-matched control (CC group).
Results: Compared with the CC group, the FC group did not have scholastic performance or behavioral outcome disadvantage. Overall FC group performance was distinguished by significantly higher scores in the achievement test and fewer missing errors (p < 0.005) and commission errors (p < 0. 05), less variability in reaction time (p < 0.005), and a nonsignificant trend of impulsivity. Attention performance of the FC and CC groups were comparable. Within the FC group, age at onset, complex FC, recurrence of FC, development of unprovoked seizures, or prior use of phenobarbital had no adverse effects on neurocognitive attention outcome.
Conclusions: This population study suggests that FC in early childhood does not have adverse effects on behavior, scholastic performance, and neurocognitive attention. On the contrary, the FC group demonstrated significantly better control of distractibility and attention at school age.