A fever, which otherwise is not very harmful, could be a cause of worry in the first few months of a baby’s life. When newborns run a fever, it often indicates some problem. It’s the body’s way of communicating that something is wrong.
Dr. Manish Mannan, Consultant, Pediatrics and Neonatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, says “It is NOT ok for a baby to run a high temperature. There can be various causes from casual viral fever to very serious life threatening conditions which can cause fever.”
“It would be best to see your paediatrician as soon as possible if your child runs a high fever,” specifies Dr. Mannan.
You would know that your tiny tot is running a fever by touching her forehead. Reach out for a thermometer for a more accurate reading. A temperature above 38 degree Celsius or 100 degree Fahrenheit is considered high.
Dr. Rohit Agrawal, Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) says, “However the panic button should not be pressed always as it is normally done. Fever is not a foe at all times; it could also be a friend. It is nature’s indicator which tells you that something is wrong with the body, which should be diagnosed and treated.”
A fever would also indicate that the immune system of the child is working its way to ward off any underlying infections. Healthy babies are capable enough to tolerate a fever up to 106 degree Fahrenheit.
There could be multiple causes that could give rise to an increase in the body temperature of infants. Sometimes an infection may trigger a rise in temperature and at other times a basic vaccination could initiate a low grade fever. Teething children may also have a higher body temperature which is sometimes misunderstood as fever.
The important thing to keep in mind is that if your baby doesn’t show any signs of being ill and is at her playful best, then there probably isn’t any cause of worry at all.
Visit your doctor if:
1) Your child, who is less than three months old, runs a high temperature and shows signs of any other illness such as a sore throat, runny nose, body aches, cough, headaches, fatigue and diarrhea.
2) The temperature has been consistently high for more than one day.
3) Your child’s behavior has changed and she is more cranky, lethargic, irritable and dull. She might also have a rash or itching, and blue lips, tongue or nails.
Doctors recommend that a baby who is less than three months old needs immediate medical attention if the fever exceeds 100.4 degree Fahrenheit. Babies at this age are vulnerable to life threatening infections such as pneumonia or meningitis. In most cases, a sudden increase in body temperature is the only cause.
Children who are 3-6 months old should be checked by a doctor when the fever has exceeded 101 deg F. For infants who are more than six months old, it is safe enough to wait out till the temperature has reached 103 degree Fahrenheit, if there are no other symptoms such as cough, runny nose, headaches, sore throat, diarrhea etc. In case there are other symptoms present, then the doctor should be called immediately.
It is important to consult a doctor before you give any medicine to the child. “In some children who are below the age of six years, there is a risk of developing “Febrile Convulsions” (Seizures). In case of very high fever, child at any age may get “delirium” (disturbed state of mind). This may happen if the fever is persistently high despite having given a Paracetamol and Tepid Sponging,” says Dr. Agrawal.
It is important to inform the doctor of other symptoms that you come across such as pain while peeing, a sore throat or ear pain. These could also signal either an ear infection or urinary tract infection.
Kids under six months can be given an infant acetaminophen which is the only recommended fever reducer. Older babies are given ibuprofen.
Doctors advice avoiding Aspirin for children less than 16 years of age since it can cause severe health problems.
It is also important to keep a check on the time intervals of medicines given so as to avoid an overdose.
Apart from the medication keeping a washcloth on the child’s forehead may help cool off the temperature but the best treatment would be to give a lot of fluids which will keep the body hydrated. Also, keep the kid dressed in simple light weight clothing for maximum comfort.