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The Low Rate of Bacterial Meningitis in Children, Ages 6 to 18 Months, With Simple Febrile Seizures

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ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:1114–1120 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Objectives:  This evidence‐based review examines the risk of bacterial meningitis as diagnosed by lumbar puncture (LP) in children presenting to the emergency department (ED) with a simple febrile seizure. The study population consists of fully immunized children between ages 6 and 18 months of age with an unremarkable history and normal physical examination.

Methods:  MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for studies that enrolled children who presented with simple febrile seizure to the ED and had LP performed to rule out meningitis. The primary outcome measure was the risk of bacterial meningitis based on findings of the LP. The secondary outcome was the rate of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis in children who were pretreated with antibiotics.

Results:  Two studies enrolling a total of 150 children met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The overall rate of meningitis was 0% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.0% to 3.0%). The rate of CSF pleocytosis in children who were pretreated with antibiotics was 2.5% (95% CI = 0.0% to 14.0%).

Conclusions:  The sample size of the studies included in this review is too small to draw any definitive conclusion. However, their findings suggest that that the risk of bacterial meningitis in children presenting with simple febrile seizure is very low.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Publication date: 01 November 2011

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