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A 38-year-old female asked:

Should i take my baby to the e.r.? i checked his temperature from his armpit with a digital thermometer 3 different times. it read 101.3 all 3 times. i recall his dr saying before that if i checked temperature this way i should add on 1 degree. my baby fe

2 doctor answers8 doctors weighed in
Dr. Laura McMullen
Pediatrics 23 years experience
What : What you should do depends on the age of your baby. First of all, the most accurate temperature in a baby is a rectal temperature, so you may want to confirm the fever with a rectal temp. Any fever (temperature over 100.4f) in a child younger than 2 months old is a medical emergency because it can be the only sign of serious illness. Babies that young should be taken to the emergency room for a "sepsis work-up" looking for infection in the blood, urine and possibly spinal fluid. They may also be admitted to the hospital on IV antibiotics for 48 hours until doctors can be sure there are no bacteria in the blood, urine or spinal fluid causing the fever. These infections in such a young child can be life threatening which is why we make such a big deal out of it. If your child is between 2 and 3 months old it is not necessarily an emergency, but they should be seen in the next few hours for evaluation. You will want to call your child's doctor right away to see if they can see you in the clinic or if they think you should go to the emergency room. If your child is older than 3 months, then take a deep breath - a fever is not an emergency in this age as long as the child is acting ok (see signs to worry about below). A fever is the body's natural reaction to an infection and the fever itself is not dangerous. It's more important to treat the child than the fever. If your baby seems uncomfortable, you can treat him with Acetaminophen (tylenol) or give a lukewarm water bath. If he seems fine, you don't have to do anything different - just keep an eye on him. You may want to call your child's doctor for further instructions or to have him seen during clinic hours. Reasons to go to the emergency room or call your baby's doctor sooner are: -refusing to eat -irritable or lethargic -if the fever doesn't respond to treatment after 24 hours or is higher than 104f rectally -diarrhea, vomiting or dehydration -rash with fever -stiif neck -difficulty breathing use your instincts and when in doubt, just call your child's doctor. Legal disclaimer: I am providing this general and basic information as a public service and my response to this question does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. For any additional information, advice, or specific concerns, please speak with your own physician. The information provided is current as of the date of the answer entry.
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Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Pediatrics 37 years experience
Fever *by itself*...: ...Is never an emergency. Fever plus very cranky, severe cough, much vomiting, out of it, short of breath, not drinking, etc - now that is an emergency, but that would still be an emergency even if fever wasn't there. Exception: any fever is an emergency in a baby under 2 months of age, or in a severely immunosuppressed person such as one on chemotherapy.
Created for people with ongoing healthcare needs but benefits everyone.
Last updated Oct 23, 2017


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