Febrile seizures are convulsions that occur in childhood in association with a febrile illness. They are a common problem in paediatric practice, affecting 2 to 5% of children under 5 years of age. The cause is usually a viral infection that does not directly affect the brain but produces a sudden rise in body temperature. Febrile seizures are an important health problem because of their proposed link with a particular form of brain damage called hippocampal sclerosis, which is known to be the most common cause of temporal lobe epilepsy.
The overall aim of this research is to understand the role of inflammation and inflammatory mediators, in the predisposition to and pathophysiology of febrile seizures. We are collecting samples from approximately 200 young children with febrile seizures and 200 children without febrile seizures who are matched for age and gender at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. We will then determine if genetic differences in inflammatory genes are associated with febrile seizures in these children.
This research is a collaboration with Dr Hedley Emsley (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital) and Dr Stuart Allan (Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester), with the genetics research being carried out within Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research (CIGMR).