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Fever in Infants

Fever in infants can be quite be quite alarming to parents. When an infant is running temperature, it is most likely a reaction to the body's defense against infection. Most often it is an ally of the body - responding to a viral or bacterial infection. However in rare cases, the fever can also be the harbinger of middle ear infection or urinary infection or even gastro-enteritis. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia, croup or strep throat can also bring on fever in infants. Fever in infants is also generally accompanied by symptoms such as flushed cheeks, rapid breathing and vomiting. The infant might be irritable and restless. In some cases, an infant can have raised body temperature due to overdressing. It is essential to remember that infants cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Infants are likely to have mild fever due to immunization shots.


If the temperature exceeds 37 C, an infant is considered to have fever. High fever in infants is not alarming but needs to be tackled immediately. If the infant is unable to move and seems weak and listless, consult a physician at once. Keep on the lookout for purple spots on the body or fullness on the soft spot on the head. Symptoms such as swollen joints and rash must also be brought to the pediatrician's notice at once. Body temperature in an infant can be checked either in the armpit or rectum. Digital thermometer can be used to accurately read elevated body temperature. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not advocate the use of ear thermometers in infants less than 3 months. Similarly glass mercury thermometers are avoided on account of possible mercury toxicity. Avoid plastic strip thermometers and pacifier thermometers since they are unlikely to be accurate.


Since most of the time fever in infants is self-limiting, do not medicate the infant yourself. Usually Paracetamol is prescribed for infants suffering from fever. Do not give aspirin to the infant, especially when there is a likelihood of a viral infection. Ensure that the baby is well hydrated. Breast milk must be offered frequently. Diluted formula can also be given. Tepid water sponge bath helps in lowering body temperature. Dress the infant in light clothing. Care should be taken not to allow the body temperature to rise rapidly as it can bring on febrile seizures.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017