Background: The prevalence of febrile seizures (FSs) and epilepsy are often reported to be higher in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, several studies describe complex features of FSs as risk factors for the development of subsequent epilepsy.
Methods: During the period from 2002 to 2004 door-to-door studies with supplementary data collection were conducted in three different areas of Tanzania, examining the prevalence of FSs in 7,790 children between the age of 2 mo and 7 y at the time of the interview. The information on the presence of FSs of 14,583 children, who at the time of the interview were younger than 15 y, was collected in order to describe reported seizures, if any.
Results: Overall, 160 children between 2 mo and 7 y with a prevalence rate of 20.5/1,000 (95% confidence interval: 17.5-23.9/1,000) met the criteria for FSs. The average age at onset was 2.2 (SD: 1.8) y and ~42% had complex FSs. Respiratory tract infections and malaria were the most frequent concomitant diseases.
Conclusion: Our findings do not confirm the assumption of an increased prevalence of FSs in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the elevated number of complex FSs emphasizes the necessity of more reliable studies about FSs and its consequences.