Department of Neurology

Complex febrile seizures

Q: My name is Gary and my daughter has been diagnosed with epilepsy. This has been very troubling because she is only 16 months. It started last November when she had a febrile seizure and has progressed into seizures (petit mal) at sporadic times.They all start with her screaming and then going in to mild, if any, convulsions. Her eyes will roll either to the left or right and she will be non-responsive for several minutes. She has had febrile seizures, the longest being 37 minutes. She is currently on 90 mg/day of Phenobarbital and they are still occuring. We are starting to worry because her doctors have not sat down and told us long term affects or cause. The doctors say she has an 80% chance of outgrowing them but this does not comfort us because of the frequency of the seizures. Any information on seizures in toddlers and cause and affects would be greatly appreciated. Also, anything on the long term affects of phenobarbital, Tegretol or Depakote would be appreciated. What would I need to do to contact you to discuss her condition?

I would also like to thank you for being here to answer questions and provide information for parents of children with seizures. Thanks, Gary


A: Simple febrile seizures (brief, generalized seizures without focality, occur during fever only) have a good long term prognosis in terms of children outgrowing them. When they are complex (long duration, start focally) or begin without fevers, they are more likely to persist. From what you describe, the long duration of her seizures, as well as her non-febrile episodes place her in the complex febrile seizure category.

The problems with uncontrolled seizures, and potential effects of medications are listed in previous postings in the Web Clinic. If she is having frequent spells, it is important to get them controlled. You should make sure that she has frequent follow up with her neurologists. For specific recommendations we would need to evaluate her; appointments at our program can be made by calling (217)545-8417.

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