Tuesday 10th April 2012
A type of seizure common among babies and young children is not the first sign of epilepsy, according to new research.
About one in 20 children are affected by febrile seizures, which usually occur between the ages of six months and four years. For many years, febrile seizures have been associated with developing epilepsy in later life.
But research published in the latest issue of Neurology indicates that people who do develop epilepsy in later life either have an inherent susceptibility to seizures, or that prolonged febrile seizures may have caused damage to the brain leading to epilepsy.
Professor Ley Sander, medical director at Epilepsy Society and one of the authors of the research said: "Children with febrile seizures have a slightly increased risk of developing epilepsy, but they are not a first sign of epilepsy."
The research is based on a study of more than 1,000 people, who have been part of a National General Practice Study of Epilepsy since the early 1980s.
Professor Sander said: "In addition the risk of developing epilepsy after a febrile convulsion decreases as time passes. More studies are needed, particularly looking at children from different ethnic backgrounds. If the findings of this study are confirmed by other long-term studies, it will be of great value in counselling anxious parents of the long-term risk of their child developing epilepsy after a febrile seizure."