Each year in the United States, 500,000 children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years will experience convulsions related to fever. The cause of these so-called febrile seizures remains unknown, and questions over how best to treat and prevent them are a source of confusion to both physicians and frightened parents. This poorly understood disorder was the target of a consensus development panel recently convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
According to the panel, chaired by Edwin L. Kendig, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, a majority (60% to 70%) of children who experience one febrile seizure will not suffer a subsequent one and do not require long-term treatment. However, in a group of patients designated as high risk, prolonged anticonvulsant therapy should be considered despite the risk of drug-related side effects.
The panel also sought to