Febrile seizures, which are caused by the rapid rise in temperature, are a common condition in pediatrics, affecting between 3% and 5% of children less than 6 years of age. Although vaccination can cause febrile seizures, little is known about vaccine-induced versus infection-induced febrile seizures in terms of either clinical presentation or outcome.

Recently, Australian researchers examined the clinical outcomes of 1,022 first febrile seizures in children less than 6 years of age who presented to 1 of 5 pediatric hospitals (Deng, L., et al. Postvaccination febrile seizure severity and outcome. Pediatrics. 2019 May;143:(5)). Only 67 of the 1,022 first febrile seizures followed receipt of vaccine, underlining the fact that vaccines are a small contributor to this problem. The authors found that vaccine-induced febrile seizures were clinically indistinguishable from infection-induced febrile seizures regarding risk of prolonged hospitalization (i.e., greater than one day), ICU admission, seizure duration greater than 15 minutes, repeat febrile seizure within 24 hours, or requirement for anti-epileptic drugs at the time of discharge.

The authors concluded, “This is reassuring data for clinicians and parents of children who experience febrile seizures after vaccination and can help guide decisions on revaccination.”

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