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During the first two years of a child's life, convulsions are far more common than at any other time in his lifetime. Fever-caused convulsions may occur in a child up to six years of age. What happens is that in a child, the brainstem (the body's temperature regulator) does not mature until the child is about four years of age. A child's temperature may rise too quickly when he has a disease, causing convulsions. Usually, a child who has febrile convulsions suffers no ill effects as long as the convulsions are occasional, brief, and limited to his early childhood.

a. Signs/Symptoms of Febrile Convulsions. The child will have a high fever of 102o F to 106o F (38.9o C to 41.1o C). Some children will convulse at lower temperatures because their seizure threshold is low. Such children may have a convulsion with a temperature of 100o F to 102o F.

b. Treatment for Febrile Convulsions. Follow these procedures:

(1) Take the child's temperature and record it.

(2) Wash your hands and assemble the following equipment:

(a) Basin containing tepid (lukewarm) water.

(b) Bath towel (two for an older child).

(c) Washcloth.

(3) Undress the child and place the bath towel under the child (to absorb moisture and prevent chilling).

(4) Cover an older child with a second bath towel.

(5) Expose the child's arms and chest. Put the washcloth in the tepid water; then, squeeze excess water from the washcloth. Sponge the child gently with the washcloth, making long, even strokes. Apply gentle friction with your hands, following the sponging. Repeat this process two or three times, giving attention to the child's armpit area.

(6) Sponge the child's abdomen, legs, and feet in the same manner.

(7) Turn the child on his abdomen and sponge his back.

(8) Sponge the inner surface of the child's groin and the perineal region. (Sponge the anal region last.)

(9) DO NOT continue this process longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

(10) Take the child's temperature every half hour until his temperature is reduced to an acceptable level.

CAUTION: The child's temperature may continue to fall after you have sponged him.

Wait 30 minutes before resuming the sponge bath. Leave the child uncovered following the sponge bath, only if his temperature remains elevated.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015