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Febrile convulsions

Infant and Children, Immune | November 30, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Children, Immune, infants

Febrile convulsions

A sudden high spike in a child’s temperature can cause them to have a fit or seizure. These are called febrile convulsions and are usually due to a viral infection. While they might seem terrifying, febrile convulsions only last a few minutes and don’t cause any permanent damage. The best way to prevent a febrile convulsion is to support healthy immunity in a child to prevent infection. Febrile convulsions have also been associated with lower levels of certain nutrients in the body such as iron, zinc and selenium.

Common misconceptions

Febrile convulsions occur in children aged between 6 months and 5 years of age without any history of neurological symptoms. Febrile convulsions are not epilepsy and they will not cause permanent brain damage. Although it looks frightening, a child suffers no pain or discomfort during a fit. Statistically, one in every 20 children will have one or more febrile convulsions. Around 30% of babies and children who have had one febrile convulsion will have another.

Symptoms of a febrile convulsion

A child experiencing a febrile convulsion may:

  • Have a fever higher than 38°C
  • Lose consciousness
  • Twitch or jerk arms and legs
  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Foam at the mouth
  • Go pale or bluish in skin colour
  • Role their eyes backwards so that you can only see the whites

A fit usually only lasts a few minutes but in some cases can take up to 15 minutes to subside. Usually after a fit the child is drowsy and irritable. There is no way to predict who will be affected or when febrile convulsions will happen.

febrile convulsionCauses

A febrile convulsion is caused by a sudden increase in body temperature. This is usually due to infection—mainly viruses but sometimes bacteria. Influenza and the virus that causes roseola, which often are accompanied by high fevers, appear to be most frequently associated with febrile seizures.

A fever is the body’s natural way of fighting an infection. However, the growing brain of a child is more sensitive to sudden changes which results in a fit.

Febrile convulsions can run in families, researchers have linked several genes to a susceptibility to febrile seizures. There are also different hypotheses about neurotransmitters and trace nutrient changes in biological fluids which can have a role in pathogenesis of febrile convulsion.

What to do during a febrile convulsion

Firstly, don’t panic and remain calm. Make sure the child is safe from injury by placing them on the floor and away from objects. Don’t restrain or shake your child. Time how long the convulsion lasts and call an ambulance for a fit that lasts longer than five minutes. After the seizure it’s recommended that your child be looked over by a doctor.

Supporting healthy immunity

Supporting healthy immunityThe best way to avoid a fever is to support your child’s immune system by preventing common viral and bacterial infections. Even if they get sick you want to prevent the severity and duration of symptoms. There is a range of safe supplements to take to take in young children to promote a healthy immune response to pathogens. They are also nutrients which are found to be low in children who suffer febrile convulsions.

Elderberry

The fruit and leaves from the elderberry plant are traditionally used to treat fever, colds and influenza. The elderberry fruit possesses potent antiviral actions particularly against common virus strains such as influenza A and B. Elderberry is safe to supplement in children over the age of 3 and is easy to administer as a mild, sweet-tasting powder or syrup.
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Zinc

Zinc is an important antioxidant nutrient for a healthy immune system in children. Numerous studies have shown that zinc levels are lower than normal in children with febrile convulsions. Another study found that zinc supplementation should be considered an effective and safe strategy to prevent febrile convulsion recurrence.

Dietary sources of zinc involve a variety of protein foods including seafood, poultry, red meat, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds and soy products.

Selenium

An essential trace mineral needed for healthy thyroid function, immunity and to prevent free radical damage. A 2010 study found that selenium levels in the blood of children who had simple febrile seizures was significantly lower than in the non-seizure control group.

Increase your child’s intake of selenium by including seafood, wholegrain rye and wheat, brazil nuts, oats, eggs, cheese and mushroom in the diet.

Iron

Iron deficiency anaemia results in too little healthy red blood cells due to a deficiency in iron.

febrile convulsionsThis can occur in any child but those that eat no, or little meat are at higher risk. Your doctor can order a blood test to determine whether your child has low levels of haemoglobin and iron.

Children with iron deficiency anaemia have a moderate increased risk of febrile convulsions.

Sources of iron in the diet include red meat, fish, poultry, green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, wholegrains and dried fruit.

Things to remember

  • Febrile convulsions happen in children who have a sudden increase in body temperature
  • A fever is usually a response to a viral or bacterial infection
  • Febrile convulsions are associated with a lack of iron, selenium and zinc
  • Elderberry is another suggestion to help prevent and treat viral infections in children

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References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/febrile-seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20372522

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/fever-febrile-convulsions

Porter RS, Bode RF. A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products. Phytother Res. 2017 Apr;31(4):533-554

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2819815

Ganesh R, et al. Serum zinc levels are low in children with simple febrile seizures compared with those in children with epileptic seizures and controls. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2011;31(4):345-9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22041469

Fallah R, et al. Efficacy of zinc sulfate supplement on febrile seizure recurrence prevention in children with normal serum zinc level: A randomised clinical trial. Nutrition. 2015 Nov-Dec;31(11-12):1358-61

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26429655

Mahyar A, et al. Correlation between serum selenium level and febrile seizures. Pediatr Neurol. 2010 Nov;43(5):331-4

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20933176

Kwak BO, et al. Relationship between iron deficiency anaemia and febrile seizures in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Seizure. 2017 Nov;52:27-34

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28957722

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