Hyperventilation may trigger febrile seizures in children

September 12, 2011

New research shows that febrile seizures in children may be linked to respiratory alkalosis, indicated by elevated blood pH and low carbon dioxide levels caused by hyperventilation, and independent of the underlying infection severity. Febrile seizures were not observed in susceptible children with fevers brought on by gastroenteritis, suggesting that low blood pH levels (acidosis) may have a protective effect. Full findings now appear in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).

Febrile seizures are the most common type of convulsive disorder in children, affecting nearly 1 out of every 25 children and typically occurring between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Previous studies have suggested that a combination of genetic and cause febrile seizures which have an incidence of up to 8% depending on geographical region and culture.

To further understand the functional changes associated with febrile seizures, a team of investigators, led by Dr. Sebastian Schuchmann, at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany and the University of Helsinki in Finland enrolled and analysed 433 children with similar fever levels who were admitted to hospital for febrile seizure (n=213) or (n=220). All pediatric patients had their blood pH and carbon dioxide levels measured upon admission.

Researchers found respiratory alkalosis in children with febrile seizures and metabolic acidosis in pediatric patients admitted for gastroenteritis. Febrile seizures did not occur in with gastroenteritis, except in a subgroup of 15 patients who had an alkaline blood pH level. Additionally, 8 patients were admitted on separate occasions for febrile seizures and gastroenteritis; blood pH was elevated when the child was admitted with febrile seizure, but a more acidotic pH was found when the child presented with gastroenteritis.

"Our findings reveal that febrile seizures are associated with respiratory alkalosis and unrelated to the severity of the underlying infection or fever level," concluded Dr. Schuchmann. "Further investigation of methods that control the body's acid-base status may lead to the development of novel therapies for treating febrile seizures." Based on the study results, the authors suggest an application of 5% carbon dioxide in the breathing air as a possible treatment for .

More information: "Respiratory Alkalosis in Children with Febrile Seizures." Sebastian Schuchmann, Sarah Hauck, Stephan Henning, Annette Grüters-Kieslich, Sampsa Vanhatalo, Dietmar Schmitz, Kai Kaila. Epilepsia; Published Online: September 12, 2011 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03259.x).

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.