The best way to prevent fevers in your child is to reduce their exposure to infectious diseases. And one of the most effective ways to do that is also one of the simplest — frequent hand-washing.
Teach your children to wash their hands often, especially before they eat, after using the toilet, after spending time in a crowd or around someone who’s sick, and after petting animals. Show them how to wash their hands vigorously, covering both the front and back of each hand with soap, and rinsing thoroughly under running water. Carry moist towelettes or hand sanitizer with you for times when you don’t have access to soap and water. When possible, teach your children not to touch their noses, mouths or eyes — the main way viral infections are transmitted.
In addition, teach your children to turn away from others and to cover their mouths when coughing and their noses when sneezing.
Research is still inconclusive about the potential benefits versus risks of vaccines with respect to children that are known to suffer from febrile seizures. On the one hand, an effective vaccination reduces the probability of contracting serious diseases like polio and meningitis, together with less serious diseases that cause fevers and potentially febrile seizures. But on the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that the administration of the vaccines themselves can cause febrile seizures.
Vaccinations have many benefits, albeit ‘invisible’. That is to say that your child won’t become ill with measles or crippled by polio, or end up in intensive care with meningitis C. They’re not 100% effective in every child, but they’re the best defence against epidemics that used to kill or permanently disable millions of children and adults.
On the flip-side, from the US Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) website, studies have shown that there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures during the first to second week after vaccination with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and the first dose of the combined (aka ‘quadrivalent’) measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella/chickenpox (MMRV) vaccine. Additional CDC studies have shown that the seasonal flu vaccines can also cause febrile seizures with the 2010-11 vaccinations being the most notable. And while the CDC studies have not shown an increased risk for febrile seizures after the DTaP/IPV/Hib (diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine, other studies have. Likewise the CDC studies have not shown an increased risk of febrile seizures after the ‘monovalent’ varicella (chickenpox) vaccines, but the product information sheet for Varivax® from Merck acknowledges the < 0.1% occurrence of febrile seizures due to its administration.
However, parents should be aware that if the typical vaccine schedule (UK or US) has been followed up to the age of 18 months (i.e. the most common age of first febrile seizure) then some simple blood tests can be used to test their child’s current immunity against the various diseases thereby potentially alleviating the need for subsequent vaccine doses and the associated risk of a seizure (e.g. DTap/IPV and MMR at 4 years). For example, according to the CDC, for the MMR vaccines that are administered in the US, the first dose at around the age of 13 months has approximately a 94% effectiveness for measles immunity with a duration of greater than 11 years. So to be clear this means that 94% of children that are given the first dose of the MMR vaccine will be immune to measles until the age of at least 12 and the 2nd dose of the MMR vaccine, which is usually administered between the ages of 4 and 6 years, is completely unnecessary for those children. The 2nd dose of the MMR vaccine is a full dose of the vaccine (not a ‘booster’ as is commonly cited) and only results in an overall 3% increased measles immunity effectiveness to 97% and an immunity of at least 15 years. Another example is for the DTaP/IPV vaccine administered in the UK. From the product information sheet for Pediacel® from Sanofi, the immunity following the first 3 doses (at ages 2, 3 and 4 months) for Diptheria is 99.2%, Tetanus is 100%, Whooping Cough is 98.7% and Polio Types 1/2/3 is 100%/99.2%/99.6%. And the immunity effectiveness following the 4th dose, which is usually administered around the age of 4, has no demonstrable increased immunity effectiveness. And finally, the CDC recognises that “laboratory evidence of immunity” is an acceptable proof of immunity in lieu of documentary evidence of vaccination. And to be clear “laboratory evidence of immunity” is the positive result of a blood test showing the occurrence of the disease antibodies / immunoglobulin G (IgG) in serum (equivocal results should be considered negative).
For further information on the links between vaccines and febrile seizures please visit Latest Research.
Cold Preventing Medicines
Many over-the-counter cold medications, including nasal sprays, are not recommended for children. Read the labels carefully and talk to your GP / pharmacist before using any over-the-counter cold treatments for children.
However, here in the UK, Boots® has recently released a nasal spray that is specifically designed for children. It uses carrageenan which is a polysaccharide extract from seaweed and has been shown to target several viruses including HSV, HPV, HIV and the Common Cold . For common colds the nasal spray targets the area in the nasal cavity where cold viruses first take hold and multiply and works by trapping the cold viruses, disabling then and hindering them from spreading and multiplying.