Febrile convulsion factsheet


Febrile convulsions are a type of seizure that can happen when a child has a high fever. A seizure is when there is a sudden disruption to brain activity, causing a child’s body to react with changes in their movement and behaviour.

Febrile convulsions can look scary, but there is no evidence that they cause any issues with brain development.

Once a child has a febrile convulsion, there is a 30% chance they will have another in the following year. The risk of febrile convulsions goes down as children get older.

 Signs and symptoms

Febrile convulsions can happen in children with high fever, without warning.

Signs include:

  • becoming stiff or floppy
  • becoming unconscious or staring off into the distance
  • making jerking or twitching movements
  • developing a blue colour around the lips.

Febrile convulsions should stop within a few seconds to a couple of minutes without any medical treatment.


The doctor or nurse will ask some questions about your child's health and what happened during the seizure to diagnose a febrile convulsion.

They will use a thermometer to check your child’s temperature and confirm whether they have a fever. They may also do some tests to find out what is causing the fever.

Tests can include:

  • a physical examination
  • a blood test
  • a urine test
  • a swab of the nose and throat. 


There is no treatment for febrile convulsions.

Follow these safety tips during the convulsion:

  • stay calm and with your child
  • move away any objects like furniture with sharp corners
  • try not to move your child unless they are at risk of harm, like in a bath or pool
  • place a pillow or towel under your child’s head
  • roll them onto their side, also known as the recovery position
  • do not put anything, including your fingers, into your child’s mouth to clear out food.

After the seizure, your child will be very tired and will need to rest. See your local doctor as soon as possible if your child stays drowsy for longer than usual, or they are difficult to wake up.

Emergency medication can be used for children who have long febrile convulsions that last more than five minutes. 

Speak to your doctor for more information about medication and febrile convulsions.


When to seek help

Go to your nearest emergency department, or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if your child has a high fever and:

  • has a seizure for the first time
  • has a febrile convulsion in water
  • is having trouble breathing
  • has injured themselves during a febrile convulsion
  • has inhaled food or vomit during a seizure
  • is blue around the lips.
Last updated Wednesday 14th February 2024