Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) factsheet


Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is a genetic disorder caused by a faulty gene passed down in families. Genes hold information about who you are, how you look, and how your body works.

Children with FMF have a faulty gene that causes issues with regulating inflammation. 

Inflammation is when the body swells up to fight infection and injury. 

FMF is an autoinflammatory disorder, which means that inflammation can happen for no reason, rather in response to illness or injury.

FMF is more common in children who are from, or who have families from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.

 Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of FMF will usually start in childhood. They include regular, ongoing episodes of:

  • fever
  • abdominal or belly pain
  • chest pain
  • joint pain
  • joint swelling.

FMF episodes can involve different, but related symptoms happening at any one time.

FMF episodes can last between 1-4 days and will improve on their own. Children with FMF will usually look healthy in between episodes.

See your local doctor as soon as possible if you have a family history of FMF and your child has regular fevers with or without any other symptoms. 


FMF can be difficult to diagnose in young children under five years old. This is because fevers without other symptoms can be common in young children.

FMF is diagnosed through:

  • taking a family medical history, including information about cultural background and genetic conditions
  • physically checking symptoms
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • genetic tests.

The symptoms of FMF can change often, so your child will need to have tests before, during and after an episode. Your child’s doctor will compare the test results to see whether they return to normal after an episode has finished.


FMF episodes will generally slow down as your child grows up. There is no cure for FMF, but symptoms can be managed using specific medications.

Some children will need to be on stronger medication for life, depending on how severe their symptoms are and which part of the body they are affecting.

Your child will have regular check-ins with their treatment team to make sure FMF is managed well. 

The treatment team can include a:

  • rheumatologist – a specialist doctor who looks after joints, muscles, and bones
  • nephrologist - a specialist doctor who looks after the kidneys
  • gastroenterologist - a specialist doctor who looks after the organs in the digestive system, like the stomach and bowel.
Last updated Wednesday 17th April 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024