Long Febrile Seizures Linked to Developmental Delays

Ten-minute duration should divide between simple and complex febrile seizures

MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A prolonged first febrile seizure is likely to occur at a younger age and is associated with developmental delay, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in the Annals of Neurology.

Dale C. Hesdorffer, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed the distribution of febrile seizure duration in a cohort with first febrile seizure, and examined the association between febrile seizure duration and baseline characteristics of the children. A cohort of 158 children, aged 6 months to 5 years, with first febrile seizure underwent neurological examinations and detailed history-taking.

The researchers found that the median duration of first febrile seizures was four minutes. The majority of febrile seizures (82.3 percent) were short, with a mean duration of 3.8 minutes. Long febrile seizures, experienced by 17.7 percent of the cohort, had a mean duration of 39.8 minutes. These long febrile seizures were significantly associated with a developmental delay and a younger age at first febrile seizure. The authors said their findings strengthened evidence for making a 10-minute duration the dividing line between simple and complex febrile seizures.

"Like the distribution of febrile seizure duration in children, the distribution of first febrile seizure duration is best modeled by assuming two populations. Developmental delay and younger age are associated with prolonged febrile seizure. Our data lend further support to defining 10 minutes as the upper limit for a simple febrile seizure," the authors write.

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