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Routine Laboratory Investigations in Infants and Children Presenting with Fever and Seizures at the University Hospital of the West Indies



A retrospective chart review of the case notes of all children aged 6 months to 8 years presenting with fever and seizures to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) between January 2000 and December 2004 was conducted. Descriptive analyses were performed. Fifty-nine children (median age 1.58 years, range 0.58 to 6.83 years) were entered into the study. The main laboratory abnormalities were metabolic acidosis (23%), anaemia (10%), leukocytosis (35%) and hypomagnesaemia (3%). These were not significantly associated with meningitis or an underlying bacterial infection. There were no significant episodes of hyponatraemia, hypocalcaemia or hypoglycaemia. Meningitis was uncommon and occurred in only two (3.4%) children both younger than 16 months of age and who had other abnormal clinical signs. This study demonstrated that routine performance of haematological and biochemical investigations in children presenting with seizures and fever were of limited value. Lumbar punctures in children older than age 18 months with no other abnormal clinical signs were also found to be of low yield. Current American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommendations that serum electrolytes, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, complete blood count and blood glucose should not be performed routinely in a child with a first simple febrile seizure can be safely applied to this study population.

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e-Published: 23 Jul, 2013
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