While the prognosis of children with febrile seizures is exceptionally good with the vast majority growing out of them before the age of six (6), unfortunately, researchers generally agree that there is a slightly increased risk of developing epilepsy later in life for children that have suffered from febrile seizures, in particular if some or all of the following risk factors were present:
- an abnormal neurologic or developmental status prior to the first febrile seizure
- complex febrile seizure or febrile status epilepticus
- family history of seizures without fever (e.g. a parent or sibling with epilepsy)
Specifically, research has shown that in the 60% of cases where none of these risk factors were present, the chances of later epilepsy are nearly the same as in the general population (i.e. 1-2% or 1 in 50); the 35% of cases where one (1) risk factor was present (most commonly the type of seizure being complex or status epilepticus), the chances of later epilepsy is 2-3% or about 1 in 35; and in the 5% of cases where two (2) or more risk factors were present, the chances of later epilepsy ranges from 5% to over 10% or about 1 in 10.
To put it all in perspective, current research suggests that over 97% of the children with febrile seizures of any type will NOT develop epilepsy.