Northern Ireland

Febrile seizures: Mum 'feared child was dying' during fit

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Media captionTracey Gamble thought her daughter Hanna was going to die when she had a fit, as BBC News NI's Julie McCullough reports

It is a common childhood condition, but many parents think their child is dying when it happens.

That was the case for Tracey Gamble, from Ballykelly in County Londonderry, when her two-year-old daughter Hanna took a febrile seizure last month.

"Her eyes were rolling, she was foaming at the mouth, her mouth had gone blue," Tracy said.

"Luckily, the seizure had only lasted about a minute and then she went into a deep sleep and was unresponsive.

"I just couldn't understand why my daughter was taking a seizure, a perfectly healthy child normally.

"I thought she was dying."


Dr Ahmed Khan, a consultant paediatrician, said febrile seizures can happen in children between the ages of six months and five years, and are caused by a high temperature.

"It is very common," Dr Khan said.

Image caption Febrile seizures are caused by a high temperature, Dr Ahmed Khan said

"Just put it into perspective, one in 20 to one in 50 children would have had a febrile seizure by the age of five in the UK and Ireland."

There are two types of febrile seizures.

Simple seizures last less than 15 minutes and do not reoccur within 24 hours, while complex seizures last longer than 15 minutes and do reoccur within 24 hours.


Dr Khan's advice for parents is to try to "recognise a seizure early on".

Image caption Tracey said antenatal classes should cover dealing with febrile seizures

"Get the child into the recovery position, don't put anything into the child's mouth," he said.

"Call for help, and if the child is having a seizure for over five minutes call an ambulance."

Tracey said she feels like she has become an anxious mum since Hanna took a seizure.

And she believes it is important to make other parents and carers of young children aware of the condition.

"I think every parent should be trained in first aid at least how to manage a seizure.

"Particularly in antenatal classes, they should be covering this."

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