Help — My tot’s having a seizure!

Wise up to the signs of childhood seizures and find out what steps to take if your child has one.

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When Alison Ng’s son, Kevin, 3, had a fever, Ng didn’t think much of this common childhood condition. “We actually went to see the doctor in the evening and I’d also given him the medication as directed.”

The 38-year-old sales manager certainly didn’t expect that her son’s fever would cause him to experience a seizure later at night.

“Thankfully, I decided to sleep with him for the night to keep an eye on his condition. I remember I was awakened by his legs jerking repeatedly against my knees.”

Frightened by her child’s sudden fit, she shouted for her mother to come over and keep an eye on him while she called for an ambulance.

At the hospital, Ng was told by the doctors that her son had suffered a febrile seizure, which usually occurs when they have a fever of 38.5 deg C and above.

Such convulsions usually cause the child’s arms and legs to jerk involuntarily, their eyes to roll upwards and their jaws to clench. It can last for a few minutes to as much as 15 minutes, according to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Such convulsions usually cause the child’s arms and legs to jerk involuntarily, their eyes to roll upwards and their jaws to clench. It can last for a few minutes to as much as 15 minutes.

Incidentally, when your child’s body temperature drops, they are also less likely to experience another seizure. That said, a febrile seizure is just one many types of seizures your child may sustain.

Associate Professor Ong Hian Tat, head and senior consultant with the division of paediatric neurology at the National University Hospital, says that other forms of repeated seizures are a symptom of epilepsy, often caused by an underlying brain disorder.

He notes, “Epilepsy could result following an infection of the brain, lack of blood flow to the brain and injury sustained during traumatic events such as road accidents or falling from heights.”

The chronic condition is also hereditary, caused by a mutation in the genes controlling the functions of nerve cells in the brain. Prof Ong highlights the symptoms of other types of seizures: