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Relationship between five common viruses and febrile seizure in children


Objectives: To examine the role of viruses in febrile seizures (FS) by comparing the relative risk (RR) of developing FS with common viral infections and subsequent risk of recurrence.

Methods: We matched the medical records of all children admitted with FS over 5 years and the contemporary records for all admissions for febrile illnesses associated with influenza, adenovirus, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and rotavirus to calculate the RR of FS following these viral infections. For patients admitted for a first FS, we carried multivariate analysis for type of viral infection, age of onset, family history, complex FS features and maximum temperature during the episode, to identify the risk factors for recurrence.

Results: There were 923 admissions for FS, of which 565 were for first seizures. The five most common viruses in FS were influenza (163/923, 17.6%), adenovirus (63/923, 6.8%), parainfluenza (55/923, 6%), RSV (25/923, 2.7%) and rotavirus (12/923, 1.3%). Incidences of FS in febrile illnesses due to these viruses were 20.8% (163/785) for influenza, 20.6% (55/267) for parainfluenza, 18.4% (63/343) for adenovirus, 5.3% (25/468) for RSV and 4.3% (12/280) for rotavirus. Complex FS occurred in 20.6% (n = 191) and the risk of developing complex FS was similar for the five viruses. Overall recurrence rate was 20.5% and was not predicted by type of viral infection.

Conclusion: The risk of developing FS is similar with influenza, adenovirus or parainfluenza and is higher than with RSV or rotavirus. Type of viral infection is not important in predicting complex features or future recurrences.

  • FS, febrile seizure
  • HHV-6, human herpesvirus 6
  • RR, relative risk
  • RSV, respiratory syncytial virus
  • UTI, urinary tract infection
  • viruses
  • febrile seizure
  • children
  • influenza
  • adenovirus
  • parainfluenza
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • rotavirus

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health