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Logo of nihpaAbout Author manuscriptsSubmit a manuscriptHHS Public Access; Author Manuscript; Accepted for publication in peer reviewed journal;
Epilepsia. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 September 1.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC3436982

Design and Phenomenology of the FEBSTAT Study



Febrile status epilepticus (FSE) has been associated with hippocampal injury and subsequent hipppocampal sclerosis (HS) and temporal lobe epilepsy. The FEBSTAT study was designed to prospectively examine the association between prolonged febrile seizures and development of HS and associated temporal lobe epilepsy, one of the most controversial issues in epilepsy. We report on the baseline phenomenology of the final cohorts as well as detailed aims and methodology.


The “Consequences of Prolonged Febrile Seizures in Childhood” (FEBSTAT) study is a prospective, multicenter study. Enrolled are children, aged 1 month to 6 years, presenting with a febrile seizure lasting 30 minutes or more based upon ambulance, emergency department, and hospital records, and parental interview. At baseline, procedures included an MRI and EEG done within 72 hours of FSE, and a detailed history and neurological examination. Baseline development and behavior are assessed at one month. The baseline assessment is repeated, with age- appropriate developmental testing at one and five years after enrollment as well as at the development of epilepsy and one year after that. Telephone calls every three months document further seizures. Two other groups of children are included: a ‘control’ group consisting of children with a first febrile seizure ascertained at Columbia University and with almost identical baseline and one year follow-up examinations and a pilot cohort of FSE from Duke University.

Key findings

The FEBSTAT cohort consists of 199 children with a median age at baseline of 16.0 months (Interquartile range (IQR)=12.0–24.0) and a median duration of FSE of 70.0 minutes (IQR=47.0–110.0). Seizures were continuous in 57.3% and behaviorally intermittent (without recovery in between) in 31.2%; most were partial (4;2.0%) or secondary generalized (65.8%), and almost all (98.0%) culminated in a generalized tonic clonic seizure. Of the 199 children, 86.4% had normal development and 20% had prior febrile seizures. In one third of cases, FSE was unrecognized in the emergency department.

The Duke existing cohort consists of 23 children with a median age of FSE onset of 18.0 months (IQR 14.0–28.0) and median duration of FSE of 90.0 minutes (IQR 50.0–170.0).

The Columbia control cohort consists of 159 children with a first febrile seizure who received almost the same work-up as the FEBSTAT cohort at baseline and at one-year. They were followed by telephone every 4 months for a median of 42 months. Among the control cohort, 64.2% had a first simple FS, 26.4% had a first complex FS that was not FSE, and 9.4% had FSE. Among the 15 with FSE, the median age at onset was 14.0 months (IQR 12.0–20.0) and the median duration of FSE was 43.0 minutes (IQR 35.0–75.0).


The FEBSTAT study presents an opportunity to prospectively study the relationship between FSE and acute hippocampal damage, the development of MTS, epilepsy (particularly TLE), and impaired hippocampal function in a large cohort. It is hoped that this study may illuminate a major mystery in clinical epilepsy today, and permit the development of interventions designed to prevent the sequelae of FSE.

Keywords: Febrile Seizures, Status Epilepticus, Epidemiology, Children


Intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is a severe condition associated with increased morbidity and poor psychosocial outcome. Prolonged febrile seizures (FS) appear to be associated with MTLE as retrospective studies from tertiary epilepsy surgery centers report a history of prolonged FS during childhood in patients with MTLE to a greater extent than would be expected by chance (Abou-Khalil et al., 1993; Cendes et al., 1993a; Cendes et al., 1993b; French et al., 1993). Prospective studies of FS have, however, failed to confirm this association (Annegers et al., 1987; Berg et al., 1999; Camfield et al., 1994). Among the population-based studies, children with febrile status epilepticus (FSE) had a greatly increased risk for developing epilepsy, although cases were few in number after a follow-up of twenty years or more (Annegers et al., 1987; Camfield et al., 1994). In support of the possible association between FSE and MTLE, studies in rats show that hippocampal injury and temporal lobe epilepsy occur following status epilepticus induced by high temperature (Dube et al., 2006) and such FSE in immature rats can boost hippocampal excitability into adulthood (Dube et al., 2000). Consistent with these findings, a study of children with prolonged febrile seizures and magnetic resonance imaging studies performed soon after FSE showed acute hippocampal injury in some children with seizures lasting more than 90 minutes (Provenzale et al., 2008; VanLandingham et al., 1998). The acute injury has been shown to later evolve to MTS in some children (Lewis et al., 2002) over a short follow-up. However, the mean latency to develop MTLE after FS is 8–11 years in retrospective studies of refractory MTLE (French et al., 1993; Mathern et al., 1995a; Mathern et al., 1995b).

Single case studies of children with FSE exist (Morimoto et al., 2002; Sokol et al., 2003). Aside from the Duke FSE study, there are three other small studies that followed children with FSE imaged at baseline (Scott et al., 2003) or children with FSE and afebrile SE (Farrow et al., 2006; Grunewald et al., 2001). Because FSE occurs in under 10% of children with FS (Berg & Shinnar, 1996; Berg et al., 1995; Hesdorffer et al., 2011; Hesdorffer et al., 2008), large prospective studies are needed limited to children with FSE who could be followed long enough to have the statistical power to address whether FSE is associated with MTS and subsequent MTLE. The “Consequences of Prolonged Febrile Seizures in Childhood” (FEBSTAT) study was designed to address this question. This report describes the three FEBSTAT cohorts as well as the detailed phenomenology and the early clinical outcomes to date.


The or the FEBSTAT study is a prospective multicenter study designed to address the relationship between FSE, subsequent MTS, and MTLE. This study consists of three cohorts, each described below: the FEBSTAT cohort; the existing cohort; and the control cohort.

FEBSTAT study cohorts

FEBSTAT cohort

Children, aged one month through 5 years, were included if they presented with an episode of FSE, defined as a seizure lasting a total of 30 minutes or more without fully regaining consciousness (Commission on Epidemiology and Prognosis of the International League Against Epilepsy, 1993) that also met the definition of a FS (Commission on Epidemiology and Prognosis of the International League Against Epilepsy, 1993; National Institutes of Health, 1981). A FS was defined as a provoked seizure where the sole acute provocation was fever (temperature greater than 38.4°C, 101.0 EF) without a prior history of afebrile seizures and with no evidence of an acute CNS infection or insult. Those children with known severe neurological disability prior to entry were excluded. Five sites recruited children with FSE from June 2003 through January 2010: Montefiore Medical Center and Jacobi Hospital; Children’s Memorial Hospital; Duke University Medical Center; Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital; and Eastern Virginia Medical School.


At each site, emergency department and hospitalization records were reviewed on a daily basis to identify potential subjects with a FS reportedly lasting ≥15 minutes and screen them to determine if they had FSE, defined as a seizure duration of >30 minutes as judged by the study team at each site. Only these children were eligible. These families were approached for consent to enroll their child in the study. Procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Boards for the Protection of Human Subjects at all the participating institutions.


Eligible children with FSE whose families signed informed consent received an MRI within 72 hours of the FSE whenever possible or very shortly thereafter. The MRIs included T2 weighted coronal sequences for assessment of hippocampal morphology and signal and T1 weighted coronal volumetric whole brain sequences for quantitative measurements of volume as well as diffusion weighted and diffusion tensor sequences for measurement of apparent diffusion constants (ADCs) and fractional anisotropy (FA). MRI geometry was monitored through the use of phantoms at each site. Visual readings are undertaken by two neuroradiologists (JAB and SC) examining hippocampal volume, hippocampal T2 signal, and other hippocampal and extrahippocampal abnormalities. The team at Duke University undertook the assessment of hippocampal volumes, ADCs, and FA maps. Geometry phantoms and T2 standards were imaged with each child allowing for quantitative T2 and to correct volumes for any changes among machines or over time. For hippocampal volume the primary outcome was the quantitative volumetric measurement whereas for T2 signal it was the visual reading. An EEG examination was also undertaken within 72 hours of the FSE for the FEBSTAT cohort. All EEGs were done according to the standards of the American Clinical Neurophysiological Society for the recording of pediatric EEGs (American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, 2006) and lasted at least 30 minutes. EEGs were recorded using digital machines, and the studies were archived onto CDs. Studies were performed with children awake and asleep when possible. Two teams (DRN and SLM) interpreted the EEGs and assessed them for slowing and spikes as well as any other abnormalities.

Members of the imaging core and the EEG core were blinded to all clinical details except the age of the subject as well as to the results of the other cores.

Seizure phenomenology was classified based upon a detailed history of the circumstances and nature of the seizure. The ambulance call sheets, emergency department records, and interviews were used for this classification. For FSE, the following were evaluated: convulsion duration, intermittent or continuous FSE, focality and lateralization, seizure type, prior febrile seizures and FSE, prior development, and recognition of FSE by non-study clinicians. FS in controls was classified as simple or complex and features of complex febrile seizures were categorized; duration of seizure and prior development were also determined. The phenomenology core was blinded to results of the EEG and the MRI. The phenomenology results for the first 119 children of the FEBSTAT cohort and portions of the phenomenology of the Columbia controls have been previously reported (Hesdorffer et al., 2011; Shinnar et al., 2008).

Identical procedures were followed for interpretation of all subsequent MRIs, EEGs, and seizures.

As part of the diagnostic evaluation during the initial hospitalization the following procedures were performed: detailed history of the circumstances of the seizure with a concentration on duration and focality; a structured interview including developmental milestones, past medical history including prenatal and perinatal, family history of FS and epilepsy in first degree relatives and characteristics of the prolonged FS; neurological and physical examination; laboratory data summarized including CSF results with > 20WBCs in the CSF considered an exclusionary criterion. As lumbar punctures were done for clinical indication, the absence of a lumbar puncture was not an exclusionary criterion. Serum specimens to assay acute human herpes virus (HHV)-6 and HHV-7 were collected and assayed centrally to examine the possible role of HHV6 and HHV7 in the pathogenesis of FSE and subsequent TLE (Theodore et al., 2008); serum samples for genetic studies were sent to the NINDS repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research (Coriell Institute for Medical Research) for future analysis. Genomic samples are being collected and sent to the Genomics repository at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (Sabin et al., 2010).

One month evaluation

One month after the FSE, children were evaluated with an age-appropriate developmental battery by the psychometrician at each site (Table 1). All developmental battery results were double scored by the neuropsychology team at Montefiore Medical Center. Parents also completed several scales, including the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Sparrow & Cicchetti, 1985), the Child Behavior Checklist for children who were at least 2 years of age (Achenbach et al., 1987), and the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1995).

Table 1
Procedures at baseline, 1 year, 5 years and 10 years for the FEBSTAT, Duke, and Columbia cohorts

Follow-up assessment

One- and 5-years after the initial assessment, the MRI, EEG and developmental testing were repeated for the FEBSTAT cohort. The testing battery changed as the child aged, moving from the Bayley Tests of Infant Development to IQ and memory tests available for older children.

Quarterly telephone calls document the occurrence of further seizures of any kind. If a new episodes of FSE or a first unprovoked seizure was noted, the child was brought in for a repeat of the baseline assessment.

Duke existing cohort

Ongoing pilot data for the newly identified FEBSTAT cohort comes from a cohort of 39 children with FSE were prospectively ascertained at Duke from 1994–1997 (VanLandingham et al., 1998) and 22 children with FSE who were prospectively ascertained at Duke (Provenzale et al., 2008) from 1997 to 2001 were eligible for follow-up in FEBSTAT.. Twenty-three of the children with FSE in the combined original cohort agreed to participate in FEBSTAT (one child prospectively ascertained from the earlier cohort and the remaining from the later cohort), and enrolled after signing informed consent. Like the FEBSTAT cohort, these children were all imaged within 72 hours of their index FSE and have continued to be followed throughout the FEBSTAT study. While the procedures used in this cohort were very similar for MRI, there was no baseline neuropsychological or developmental testing, and samples for virology titers were not obtained. Baseline EEGs were done for clinical care in about 50% of subjects and efforts are being made to obtain the digital files.

During the first 5 years of the grant, the Duke FSE cohort underwent evaluations that were 5–10 years after their index FSE. During the second 5-year cycle, they are being evaluated 10–15 years after their index FSE. They will continue to be followed to generate hypotheses concerning what to expect over time from the larger FEBSTAT cohort. They will also contribute to analysis of each time period when methodology is overlapping for MRI endpoints, further occurrence of FSE or occurrence of new onset epilepsy, and for cognitive outcomes at 5 years onwards. EEGs were performed during the 5–10 year follow-up and continue to be done at the 10–15 year follow-up. All MRI examinations and seizure phenomenology at baseline have been re-evaluated by consensus reviewers.

Columbia control cohort

One hundred fifty-nine children, aged 6 months to 5 years, with a first FS, including some with FSE, were enrolled in a prospective cohort study, the Columbia Study of Febrile Seizures (Hesdorffer et al., 2008). They were identified at The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian Pediatric Emergency Department between March 1999 and April 2004 through active daily screening of all febrile seizures whether first or recurrent. Children with prior neonatal seizure were included. Enrolled children received an MRI within one week of the FS. Within one month, parents were interviewed regarding the child’s medical history, demographics, and family history of FS and epilepsy in first-degree relatives, using the same interview administered to the FEBSTAT parents at baseline. At the time of the parent interview, children received a neurological examination and developmental testing (Table 1). The baseline examination was repeated at one year. Children were followed through quarterly telephone calls for a median of 42 months to assess the occurrence of further FS or new onset unprovoked seizures. An EEG was not performed, nor was virology assessed. MRI examinations and seizure phenomenology have been re-evaluated by consensus reviewers as part of the FEBSTAT study (Hesdorffer et al., 2011).

Consensus review of seizure phenomenology, MRI and EEG

MRI visual readings, EEG readings, and seizure phenomenology were all evaluated by the central cores previously described, each of which reviewed the data independently. When disagreements occurred, the experts reviewed the differences together to arrive a mutually agreed upon classification. MRI and EEG consensus were performed blinded to all other information about the child except age. For subsequent EEGs and MRIs, readers were blind to the nature of the study and to the results of prior studies. Additionally, the quantitative MRI core is blinded to the readings of the visual MRI reading core, although any differences are subsequently resolved. The cores have interpreted all data from each of the three cohorts (FEBSTAT, Duke existing cohort, and Columbia controls): including all the MRIs across cohorts, all the EEGs from FEBSTAT and the Duke existing cohort, and the phenomenology of seizures. For neuropsychological and behavioral testing of the FEBSTAT and Duke existing cohort , double scoring by a central neuropsychologist was used for all tests that were not computer administered to ensure consistency. Double scoring was also used for the Columbia cohort developmental testing and parental questionnaire like the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.


FEBSTAT cohort

The FEBSTAT cohort consists of 199 children with FSE (Table 2), after excluding one enrolled child whose LP later revealed the presence of a central nervous infection. The median age at FSE was 16.0 months (Table 2). Development was normal in 86.4% and clearly abnormal in only 7.0%. Approximately 20% had a history of febrile seizures and 7% had a history of possible or definite FSE. The mean temperature in the Emergency Room was 102.2 °F (SD=1.8).

Table 2
Characteristics of febrile status epilepticus in the FEBSTAT cohort, Duke cohort and Columbia control cohort

The characteristics of the initial episode of FSE are summarized in Table 2. The median duration was 70 minutes, even though the entry criteria specified ≥ 30 min and the criteria to screen for eligibility was ≥ 15 min. A substantial proportion if the children had seizures lasting more than 2 hours (24.1%).

Among the 199 subjects, 46 did not activate EMS and 153 did. Overall 20 (10.1%) subjects did not receive a medication to stop the seizure: 4 (9.0%) of those not transported by EMS and 16 (10.5%) of those transported by EMS. In the great majority of cases (87.9%), seizures did not stop spontaneously, ceasing only after the administration of a benzodiazepine class drug and, in some children, a second drug, mostly phenytoin/fosphenytoin. Of the 175 treated subjects, 29 (16.6%) had termination of FSE with one dose. Sixteen (9.1%) of 175 treated subjects had termination of FSE with EMS treatment only; 5 had multiple doses of treatment, and 11 had one dose. Despite the relatively long duration of the seizures and the active intervention required to stop them, the emergency department clinicians, while providing appropriate therapy in most cases, consistently underestimated the duration of the seizure and failed to recognize SE in 33.2% of the cases, including many children with continuous seizures.

Since FEBSTAT enrollment, 23 children (11.6%) have experienced one or more further episodes of FSE. At least one unprovoked seizure has developed in 22 children (11.1%).

Dravet syndrome has been identified in three children. Prediction of Dravet syndrome was not possible at the time of FSE, although one child with epileptiform abnormalities was, in hindsight, at increased risk. Additionally, three children have died. One died during the initial hospitalization several weeks after the episode of FSE due to respiratory failure of unknown cause. The remaining two had developed epilepsy and were neurologically impaired and died of presumed sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Among the SUDEP, one was a Dravet.

Duke cohort

The Duke cohort consists of the 23 children with FSE whose families signed consent forms to participate in FEBSTAT. Baseline seizure semiology has been evaluated in consensus. The median age at FSE was 18 months. Development was normal in 87.0% and clearly abnormal in only 4.4%. Approximately 22% had a history of febrile seizures and none had a history of possible or definite FSE. The mean temperature in the Emergency Room was 103.4 °F (SD=1.2).

The median seizure duration was quite long at 90 minutes (Table 2), with a substantial proportion having seizures that lasted more than 2 hours (34.8%). Despite the relatively long duration of the seizures and the active intervention required to stop them, the emergency department (ED) clinicians, while providing appropriate therapy in most cases, consistently underestimated the duration of the seizure and failed to recognize SE in over a fifth of the cases, including many children with continuous seizures. While duration of FSE appears longer in the Duke than in the FEBSTAT cohort, the differences are not statistically significant.

No children experienced a subsequent FSE. Epilepsy has developed in seven children (30.4%) of whom two, both in the Duke pilot cohort, which has had longer follow-up, have had TLE and lobectomies showing hippocampal sclerosis and mild temporal focal cortical dysplasia. .

Columbia Control cohort

The control cohort consists of 159 children enrolled at their first febrile seizure; 15 (9.4%) had FSE.

In the full control cohort of 159 children, median age at FSE was 18 months and the mean temperature in the emergency department was 103.4°F (SD=1.6; Table 3). First simple febrile seizures occurred in 64.2%. Among the 57 children with a first complex FS, 63.2% experienced focal seizures, 46.6% experienced seizures longer than 15 minutes, and 31.6% experienced multiple seizures. These percentages are not independent. Development was normal in 96.60% and clearly abnormal in only 4.4%.

Table 3
Characteristics of Columbia controls with a first febrile seizure

Fifteen children (9.4%) in the control cohort experienced FSE (Table 2). Among these, the median duration was 43.0 minutes. FSE lasted more than 1 hour in 23.3%, and more than 2 hours in 6.7%. FSE did not stop spontaneously in 6.7% and required administration of a benzodiazepine class drug. The emergency department clinicians underestimated the duration of the seizure and failed to recognize FSE in one-third of the cases. Children with FSE from the Columbia cohort are included in some analyses of FSE in which case they are excluded as controls.

Over a median of 42 months of follow-up, 52 of the 159 Columbia controls (32.7%) experienced a second febrile seizure, of which 4 (7.7%) were FSE; epilepsy developed in 9 children (5.7%).


We originally reported on phenomenology in the 119 children with FSE ascertained in FEBSTAT (Shinnar et al., 2008). In Table 2, we show the phenomenology for all three cohorts with FSE. The results are similar but more information is provided from Duke and the Columbia controls with FSE. Importantly the Columbia controls and Duke FSE cases were reclassified by the same reviewers used for FEBSTAT. Duration of FSE was similar for the Duke FSE and FEBSTAT cases, but duration of FSE in the Columbia FSE cases was shorter than in the FEBSTAT cases (p=0.005).

We used the Kappa statistic to compare classification by each of the phenomenology reviewers to the final consensus for both the 237 with FSE and the 159 Columbia controls (Table 4). Among those with FSE, Kappa was good to excellent. As expected, the lowest Kappas were found for determination of focal seizures (Kappa ranging from 0.45 to 0.68). On the measure of total seizure duration derived from the history and medical records, as video EEG was not done, the intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were excellent: 0.80 for overall duration of FSE and 0.99 for overall duration among Columbia controls. Among the Columbia controls, all Kappas were good or excellent (Kappa ranging from 0.69–0.96).

Summary of basline HHV6/HHV7 titers, EEG findings, and MRI

Viremia with HHV6/HHV7 occurred in 34.3% of children in FEBSTAT (Table 2) and were not associated with MRI abnormality (Epstein et al.). Among FEBSTAT children, any EEG abnormality occurred in 90 (45.5%) of children and epileptiform EEGs were seen in 13 (6.5%). Definite baseline MRI abnormalities were seen in 58 (25.7%) of the 226 baseline MRIs across the three cohorts (191 FEBSTAT, 23 Duke, and 12 controls with FSE and imaging), including definitely increased hippocampal T2 signal in 23 (10.2%) cases (Shinnar et al.).


The FEBSTAT study is a large scale prospective study that intensively studies the aftermath of FSE. The Columbia cohort add controls for baseline and 1 year MRI and cognition, as well as seizure occurrence up to 42 months of follow-up. The Duke cohort, which contributes pilot data, has the advantage of being 5 years older than the FEBSTAT cohort at each assessment, thus defining endpoints that can be studied later in the FEBSTAT cohort using the same methodology. These data provide useful information on what to expect in the FEBSTAT children and to better formulate next steps in FEBSTAT.

Good reliability of the features of FSE is very important when studying the consequences of FSE, particularly when examining associations between MRI or EEG findings, for example, and features of FSE. Reliability between each reviewer and the consensus determination was good to excellent in almost all cases, except for focality. Determination of focal features was good for two of three readers and fair for one. The same was not seen for the Columbia controls, where Kappa for focal features was good to excellent for all reviewers compared to consensus though still lower than that for other features of complex febrile seizures. This is consistent with a prior report of children with first febrile seizures, (Berg et al., 1992) which showed that Kappas were lower for focality than for other features of complex febrile seizures. Reasons were similar and related to whether a stare at the beginning or eyes deviating to one side were considered as evidence of focality by the raters (Shinnar et al., 2008). When lateral eye deviation at onset preceded the seizure, we considered this evidence of probable focal onset without the ability to lateralize the seizure, because it could have arisen from the ipsalateral or contralateral side. When eyes were deviated upward and to the side, we did not consider this evidence of focal onset.

A central tenet of the FEBSTAT study design has been achieving as great as possible consistency of procedures across the three FEBSTAT cohorts. To this end, the phenomenology core classified all seizures in the three cohorts and the MRI core classified all MRIs, even though these had been assessed previously for the Duke(Lewis et al., 2002) and the Columbia cohort (Hesdorffer et al., 2008). The EEG core similarly classified all EEGs from the FEBSTAT and the Duke cohort; no EEGs were available for the Columbia cohort. The same parental questionnaire used in the Columbia study was used in the FEBSTAT cohort; however, it was impossible to assess the same information in the Duke cohort as the acute period was at least five years before enrollment into FEBSTAT. Where possible, some of the information obtained in the interview was abstracted from medical records. Most developmental tests used in the Columbia study were also used in FEBSTAT cohort at baseline and one year, and additional tests of memory were included for FEBSTAT. The Duke cohort has had the same follow-up intervals as the FEBSTAT cohort but is 5-years ahead, allowing for the collection of pilot data to inform hypotheses to be tested on the FEBSTAT cohort and for inclusion of the Duke FSE cases with the FEBSTAT cases when the time intervals are overlapping.

Children in the Columbia cohort were ascertained because they had a first febrile seizure and not because they had FSE. The consequence is that the entire spectrum of febrile seizure duration was included in this cohort. Consensus used to determine which children had FSE, whether or not these children would have come to attention in studies focusing on FSE. This likely explains the lower seizure duration in Columbia FSE compared to FEBSTAT. Duration did not differ between Duke FSE and FEBSTAT.

The consistency of information collected across cohorts permits several aggregations of cohorts for analysis. The FEBSTAT cohort can be compared to the Columbia cohort children with first simple febrile seizures at baseline and one year, and assessment of epilepsy can be compared for up to 42 months of follow-up. The FEBSTAT and Duke cohorts can be combined to study long-term outcomes of FSE since the most methodology is parallel and sample size is increased. For analyses of baseline and one-year imaging and developmental testing, the Columbia cohort FSE cases can be combined with the FEBSTAT and Duke cohorts and compared to Columbia controls with simple febrile seizures or complex febrile seizures that are not FSE.

Due to the young age at which children experience FSE (a median of 14.0–18.0 months across cohorts), memory tests were administered to few children at baseline. Memory testing begins at age 2.5 years with the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities and children over age 5 years receive the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning. Thus, it is possible to examine the association between hippocampal abnormalities and memory beginning as early as 2.5 years.

MRI examinations revealed similar findings across the FEBSTAT, Duke and Columbia FSE cases. Importantly, the Columbia children with simple or complex febrile seizures that were not FSE did not show increased hippocampal T2 signal, a finding exclusively seen in FSE cases.

The majority of children with FSE are doing well to date and have not experienced further FSE or onset of epilepsy. This is consistent with the data from retrospective studies that report a mean of 8–11 years between the episode of FSE and development of TLE (French et al., 1993; Mathern et al., 1995b). Following a mostly well cohort is always challenging because parents may not wish to have their child undergo further testing. Fortunately, most FEBSTAT coordinators who began the study are still following the cohort and fostering relationships with study families through the quarterly calls, thereby optimizing follow-up. This is particularly important because of the long latency to the onset of epilepsy after FSE; thus, we will have to wait some time before the main study question (i.e., do FSE cause MTS and TLE?) can be answered definitively.

In the initial report of 121 FEBSTAT cases, we found a high proportion in which, despite good management in the ED, clinicians failed to recognize FSE (Shinnar et al., 2008). This finding has been extended to include the full FEBSTAT cohort, as well as the Duke cohort and the Columbia cohort. While the clinicians often did not recognize that the seizure was SE, using the 30 minute definition met by all children in this study, they treated them with medications. The clinicians usually recognized ongoing seizure activity and treated it even if they did not know how long the seizure actually lasted. Whether or not they were treated by EMS was primarily a matter of the custom and practice of each ambulance service. As was the case in the PHTSE study (Lowenstein et al., 2001), it remains the case that many jurisdictions do not give any AEDs in the prehospital setting, even though the AEDs are clearly effective (Lowenstein et al., 2001; Silbergleit et al., 2012). In most cases, FSE stopped following treatment with benzodiazepines, which were the first drug administered in almost all children. It is difficult to compare the response rates to those seen in the randomized clinical trials. In those trials, prehospital treatment with lorazepam was associated with a 59.1% response rate in PHTSE (Lowenstein et al., 2001) and with 63.4% in RAMPART (Silbergleit et al., 2012). However, there are two major differences. First, the failure criteria were very stringent in teh trials, whereas many of the FEBSTAT children received multiple doses of the same benzodiazepine and would have therefore been considered non-responders in the trials. Second, the trials were limited to adults and included all types of SE, including a substantial proportion of acute symptomatic SE associated with acute neurological insults. Response to treatment is partly a function of etiology and acute symptomatic SE tends to respond less well to treatment (Maytal et al., 1989). Thus, it is unclear from these data whether FSE is more sensitive to benzodiazepine therapy than other forms of SE.

The combined cohorts of the FEBSTAT study allow us to examine the relationship between FSE and subsequent MTS and TLE. Controls with simple febrile seizures and complex febrile seizures that are not FSE permit comparison for early outcomes. The Duke existing cohort contributes valuable pilot data to inform hypotheses for the next wave of the FEBSTAT cohort follow-up and contributes to analyses of FEBSTAT when outcomes overlap. Long-term outcome studies are in progress, and the FEBSTAT cohort is undergoing the 5-year follow-up examinations. We are only now beginning to see TLE in the Duke existing cohort where two children have undergone lobectomy more than 10 years after their FSE. Early data suggest that initial MRI findings can predict development of MTS(Provenzale et al., 2008), implying that MRI may be a biomarker for the development of subsequent TLE, thus identifying high risk children who may be candidates for antiepileptogenesis trials (Gomes & Shinnar, 2011). The cohort is adequately powered to examine the role of HHV-6 in the development of TLE as well (Theodore et al., 2008). Given the known long latency periods between FSE and the development of clinical TLE, it will be some time before the FEBSTAT final answers are known. The FEBSTAT study has a sufficiently large cohort to answer whether there is a link between prolonged febrile seizures and subsequent TLE and MTS.

Figure 1
Acute treatment of the 199 FEBSTAT subjects


Supported by NINDS grant NS43209 (P.I. S. Shinnar, M.D., Ph.D) and NICHD grant 36867 (PI: D.C. Hesdorffer PhD)

FEBSTAT Study Team

Montefiore Medical Center and Jacobi Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY: Shlomo Shinnar MD PhD (PI), Jennifer Ayala BA, Jacqueline Bello MD, Mootoo Chunasamy RT MS, Patricia Clements, Ronda L. Facchini PhD, James Hannigan RT, George Lantos MD, Ann Mancini MA, David Masur PhD, Solomon L. Moshé MD, Ruth C. Shinnar RN MSN, Maryana Sigalova MA, Yoshimi Sogawa, MD, Erica Weiss MA

Children’s Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL: Douglas Nordli MD (PI), John Curran MD, Leon G Epstein MD, Aaliyah Hamidullah MS, Andrew Kim MD, Julie Renaldi PhD

Columbia University School of Medicine, New York, NY: Dale C. Hesdorffer PhD (PI). Emilia Bagiella PhD, Stephen Chan MD, Veronica J. Hinton PhD, Claire Litherland, Yuxin Zhang MS.

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC: Darrell Lewis MD (PI), Melanie Bonner PhD, William Gallentine DO, James MacFall PhD, James Provenzale MD, Elizabeth Rende RN MSN CPNP, James Voyvodic, PhD, Allen Song PhD, Yuan Xu BS

Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA: L. Matthew Frank MD (PI), Joanne Andy RT, Terrie Conklin RN, Susan Grasso MD, Diane James R-EEG T, David Kushner MD, Susan Landers RT, Virginia Van de Water PhD

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA: John M. Pellock MD (PI), Tanya Bazemore REEG-T, James Culbert PhD, Kathryn O’Hara RN, Syndi Seinfeld MD, Jean Snow RT-R

International Epilepsy Consortium at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA: Shumei Sun PhD, Brian J Bush MSMIT, Sreedevi Chandrasekaran, Lori L Davis, John M. Pellock MD, Christiane Rogers, Cynthia Shier Sabo MS, Helen Wang.

Collaborators: Joan Conry MD, Childrens National Medical Center, Washington DC – Safety


Tracy Glauser MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Ohio – Genomics substudy

Jeffrey L Noebels MD PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas – Genetics substudy


Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest: None of the authors has any conflict of interest to disclose. The authors confirm that we have read the Journal’s position on issues involved in ethical publication and affirm that this report is consistent with the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines for ethical publication (


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