The mortality and morbidity of febrile seizures

Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2008 Nov;4(11):610-21. doi: 10.1038/ncpneuro0922.

Abstract

Approaches to the treatment and investigation of febrile seizures have changed since the main reference studies on outcomes were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s. We have, therefore, conducted a systematic review of literature from the past 15 years to see whether outcomes have also changed. We found that simple febrile seizures do not carry a risk of death, but there is a very small risk of death after complex febrile seizures (CFSs), particularly febrile status epilepticus. There is no evidence that SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) occurs in association with febrile seizures. The risk of later epilepsy after a febrile seizure lies between 2.0% and 7.5%, and the risk of developing epilepsy after CFSs is estimated at around 10-20%. There is no evidence of any risk of hippocampal or mesial temporal sclerosis (HS/MTS) in association with simple febrile seizures. Serial imaging has shown that HS/MTS develops in 0-25% of patients over time after prolonged febrile seizures; the range in prevalence reflects selection bias in different studies. The overall risk of HS/MTS associated with CFSs is around 3%. Approximately 40% of patients with medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy and HS/MTS on neuroimaging have a history of febrile seizures.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Seizures, Febrile / complications*
  • Seizures, Febrile / mortality*