A seizure is an uncontrolled electrical discharge within the brain that usually, but not always results in characteristic abnormal movements of the body. Seizure disorders affect between 4 to 6 children per 1000 in the population. Seizures may be caused by fever, head injury, metabolic disorders, or most commonly, by unknown factors.

A febrile seizure is a seizure caused by sudden elevation of the body temperature in a child in the proper age range, generally six months to three years old (some authorities extend the age range a bit but not beyond five or six years).

Recurrent seizures not associated with fever or head injury are called epilepsy.

Two thirds of children who have an unprovoked seizure will never have another. Of the 1/3 who have a second one, about 1/3 of those children will never have another. Antiepilepsy medications are rarely started for first seizures. These drugs do not totally eliminate seizure recurrence, and do not seem to affect how long the seizures will continue to occur. Side effects of seizure medications are often significant, so they are prescribed when the benefits outweigh the potential side effects.

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