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June 2000

Children With Febrile Seizures Do Not Consume Excess Health Care Resources

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, IWK Grace Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154(6):594-597. doi:10.1001/archpedi.154.6.594

Background  Febrile seizures are benign but so terrifying for parents that they may subsequently view their affected children as "vulnerable." Children viewed as vulnerable may be brought to medical attention more frequently. We examined subsequent hospitalizations and physician visits during a 6- to 7½-year period for a group of children who had participated in a case-control study of initial febrile seizures.

Methods  Individual data from a regional cohort of 75 children with a first febrile seizure and 150 febrile and 150 afebrile controls were linked to 2 comprehensive provincial health services databases—a hospital admissions/separations database and a physician services database.

Results  Linkage was achieved for 98% of the study cohort, with heath care utilization data for 6 to 7½ years available for 96%. Children with febrile seizures had nearly identical rates of subsequent hospitalization compared with age-matched controls (χ2 test, P=.88). An excess of day-surgery visits for primarily otolaryngologic procedures was seen for the febrile seizure patients 0 to 12 months after their initial febrile seizure (χ2 test, P<.001). During the next 6 to 7½ years, the febrile seizure patients had nearly identical rates of physician visits (χ2 test, P=.15); however, they had more visits to otolaryngologists in the first 3 to 9 months after the febrile seizure (χ2 test, P<.001), but fewer visits to pediatricians during the next 1 to 4 years (χ2 test, P<.001).

Conclusions  Children with febrile seizures have nearly identical rates of hospital and physician services utilization compared with controls. This supports the hypothesis that febrile seizures are benign, and that parents recover from their initial anxiety and do not consider their children vulnerable to additional illness in the years that follow.