Prognostic factors for subsequent epilepsy in children with febrile seizures

Epilepsia. 2013 Dec;54(12):2101-7. doi: 10.1111/epi.12429. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Objective: Epilepsy following febrile seizures (FS) has been estimated between 2% and 7%. It concerns a prospective study in a large sample of children with a long-term follow-up. The aim of this study is to identify the prognostic factors that can lead children with FS to epilepsy.

Methods: Children with a first episode of FS were included. We gathered information about prenatal and perinatal history, family history of FS and epilepsy in first- and second degree relatives, age at the time of the initial FS, dates of FS recurrences, focality, duration of the FS and recurrent episodes within the same febrile illness, height and duration of fever prior to the seizure, cause of the fever, and frequency of febrile illnesses. Patients were seen every 4-6 months and also at each recurrence.

Key findings: A group of 560 children with a first FS met all entry criteria. Epilepsy was recorded at 5.4%. Statistical analysis was performed between children with epilepsy and those with no afebrile seizure. We analyzed FS recurrences in accordance with the occurrence of epilepsy. From the third FS recurrence and beyond, only focality continued to have prognostic value.

Significance: Main prognostic factors for the development of epilepsy after FS are: (1) complex FS that increased the risk for epilepsy 3.6 times, (2) age at onset of FS beyond the third year of life that raised the risk 3.8 times, (3) positive family history of epilepsy 7.3 times, and (4) multiple episodes of FS about 10 times. Focality at the first and the second FS recurrence increased the risk of epilepsy about 9.7 and 11.7 times, respectively. Focality was the only factor that continued to be significant in further FS recurrences. A prognostic profile of each child with FS would be very useful for the follow-up of these children.

Keywords: Afebrile convulsions; Fever; Prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Medical History Taking
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures, Febrile / complications*