Hyperventilating May Cause Childhood Seizures

Acidosis may lead to therapies for those at seizure risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Pediatricians are very focused on their patients avoiding extended high fevers for many health reasons. One of their concerns is that fevers can cause a febrile seizure.

New research indicates that children’s febrile seizures could be linked to respiratory alkalosis. This condition is marked by low carbon dioxide levels and elevated blood pH which is caused by hyperventilation. 

If your child's fever last more than 24 hours, call your doctor.

Sebastian Schuchmann, at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany and the University of Helsinki in Finland reports their findings indicate that febrile seizures are linked with respiratory alkolosis and an underlying infection. He recommends more studies to understand better what control’s the body’s acid status in order to develop new therapies for treating febrile seizures.

Respiratory alkalosis is independent of an underlying infection’s severity. Febrile seizures were not seen in susceptible children when their fevers were caused by gastroenteritis. This may indicate that low blood pH levels may be protective against febrile seizures.

Researchers enrolled and analysed the charts of 433 pediatric patients with similar fever levels; 220 gastroenteritis patients and 213 febrile seizure patients. All the children had their blood carbon dioxide and pH levels taken when they were admitted to the hospital.

Researchers found metabolic acidosis in the gastroenteritis patients and respiratory alkalosis in the patients with febrile seizures. No febrile seizures occurred in children with gastroenteritis, except for a subgroup of 15 patients who had an alkaline blood pH level.

Also, eight patients were admitted on separate occasions for febrile seizures and gastroenteritis; blood pH was elevated when the child was admitted with febrile seizure. More acidotic pH levels were present when a child had gastroenteritis.

This study is published in Epilepsia.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 12, 2011
Last Updated:
September 14, 2011