Frequency and risk factors for febrile seizures during COVID-19 pandemic waves: an observational study

Eur J Pediatr. 2023 Jul;182(7):3337-3345. doi: 10.1007/s00431-023-05021-0. Epub 2023 May 13.


Febrile seizures (FS) are well-known manifestations of viral illnesses. The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence and factors associated with FS among pediatric patients with COVID-19 admitted to the National Isolation Centre in Brunei Darussalam. All pediatric patients (< 12 years) during the first (n = 12), second (n = 418), and third (n = 219) waves were included in the study. In Brunei, the first, second, and third waves were caused by the original SARS-CoV-2, Delta, and Omicron variants, respectively. Data was extracted from a prospective database and the national electronic health record system. Patients with and without FS were compared to identify any significant risk factors. FS were only encountered in the third wave (n = 29, 13%) giving an overall prevalence of 4.5%; 24 (83%) occurring in the typical age group for FS (≥ 6 months to < 6 years). Five cases (17%) occurred in children 6 years and older. Comparing patients in the third wave, univariate analyses showed typical age group, previous history of FS, family history of FS, higher temperature (> 38.6 °C), and fewer symptoms on presentation (3 or less) were associated with FS. On multivariate analyses, typical age group, family history of FS, and fewer reported symptoms remained significant (all p < 0.05). Conclusions: The overall prevalence of FS in COVID-19 patients is comparable to rates reported. However, in Brunei Darussalam, FS only occurred in the third wave that has been associated with Omicron variant. Younger age group, family history of FS, and fewer symptoms on presentation are correlated with risk of FS. What is Known: • Viral infections are the most common cause of FS in children. •Young age and a personal and family history of FS are correlated with the risk of FS. What is New: • There were high rates of FS (13%) among pediatric patients admitted with COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant but not with the original and Delta variants. • FS with COVID-19 were correlated with reporting fewer symptoms on presentation.

Keywords: COVID-19; Convulsions; Febrile seizures; Omicron variant.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pandemics
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Seizures, Febrile* / epidemiology
  • Seizures, Febrile* / etiology

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants