Children Face Higher Mortality After Febrile Seizures

August 8, 2008

Children may face an increased risk of death in the two years following some febrile seizures, researchers report in the Aug. 9 issue of The Lancet.

FRIDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Children may face an increased risk of death in the two years following some febrile seizures, researchers report in the Aug. 9 issue of The Lancet.

Mogens Vestergaard, M.D., of Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 1.6 million children born in Denmark between 1977 and 2004, who were followed from 3 months of age until death, emigration from Denmark, or an ending point during 2005.

The mortality rate ratio was 80 percent higher in the first year after a first febrile seizure, and 90 percent higher the second year, with 132 of 100,000 children dying within two years of a febrile seizure, compared with 67 deaths per 100,000 in those without a history of the disorder, the report indicates. After two years, the mortality rate ratio declined to a similar level as the general population. In a nested case-control study, the researchers found that complex febrile seizures -- but not simple febrile seizures -- were linked to a significantly higher mortality rate.

"Vestergaard and colleagues' study again seems to refute, for infants and children who have simple febrile seizures, the idea of a shared cause between febrile seizures and sudden death. Similar to previous studies…the new study suggests there is a subset of children with febrile seizures -- notably those with complex features and underlying neurological abnormalities -- that might warrant closer attention and follow-up," writes Maitreyi Mazumdar, M.D., of Children's Hospital Boston, in an accompanying commentary.

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