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Fits or convulsions

Febrile convulsions or ‘fever fits’ are common in children under the age of three, but can seem very alarming to parents. Although there are other reasons why children ‘fit’, fits are most commonly triggered by a high temperature. If your baby or child seems feverish or has a high temperature it is important to cool him or her down immediately.

What to do if your child has a fit

If your child has a fit he or she may suddenly turn blue and become rigid and staring. Sometimes the eyes will roll and the limbs start to twitch and jerk.

  • Keep calm.
  • Lie your child on his or her side to make sure he or she does not vomit or choke. Remove any objects from your child’s mouth. Do not put anything in the mouth.
  • Remove your child’s clothing and any covering, and ensure your child is cool but not chilly.
  • Sponge your child with tepid water if possible, starting from the head and working downwards.

Most fits will stop within three minutes. When it is over, reassure your child, make him or her comfortable, and then call a doctor.

  • If the fit hasn’t stopped, dial 999, or get someone else to go for help. Carry your child with you if there is no one to help you. If your GP isn’t immediately available take your child to a hospital or call an ambulance. Stay with the child to prevent injury and move objects away from where the child is lying.
  • Tell your GP that your child has had a fit.

Febrile convulsions become increasingly less common after the age of three and are almost unknown after the age of five. Children with epilepsy, which cause fits or seizures, may also grow out of these.

We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.