Research Article

Failure of phenobarbitone to prevent febrile convulsions.

Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.6009.559 (Published 06 March 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:559
  1. J Z Heckmatt,
  2. A B Houston,
  3. D J Clow,
  4. J B Strephenson,
  5. K L Dodd,
  6. G T Lealman,
  7. R W Logan

    Abstract

    One-hundred-sixty-five children without known neurological disorder who presented with their first febrile convulsion between the ages of six months and three years were assigned to daily phenobarbitone treatment or to a control group and followed up at a special clinic for six months. One-hundred-and-sixty-one-one children completed the trial, and of the 88 children assigned to phenobarbitone treatment 10 had further convulsions during this period compared with 14 of the 73 control children. Only 49 of those assigned to phenobarbitone took the drug regularly throughout the trial, and four of these had further febrile convulsions, a proportion not significantly different from that in the controls. All four had mean plasma phenobarbitone concentrations over 69 mumol/l (16 mug/ml) during the trial and in three the plasma concentration was at or over this figure within eight hours over 69 mumol/l (16 mug/ml) during the trial and in three the plasma concentration was at or over this figure within eight hours of the repeat convulsion. Regular phenobarbitone does not seem to prevent febrile convulsions. Attention should instead be directed to organising emergency services to allow early termination of fevrile convulsions, whether first or subsequent, to prevent irreversible brain damage.