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Fears over infant fever.

Dr Dunia Al Hashimi, consultant paediatrician, Bahrain Royal Hospital, offers parents advice on how to check their child's temperature accurately, in the first of a two-part series.

When parents come in complaining that their infant has a fever, as a paediatrician I always ask an important question: "What do you mean by fever?"

Most parents would answer that they touched their baby's skin and it felt warm.

However, this is not an accurate estimation of a fever. It should be measured by a thermometer and I advise parents to purchase one to accurately measure their baby's temperature.

There are different types of thermometers - the most common is the digital thermometer which is placed in the baby's axilla (under the armpit) or the aural thermometer which is placed in the baby's external ear.

Fever is an increase in body temperature that exceeds 38C when measured from the rectum or 37.5C when taken from the axilla. Temperatures are not usually checked from the mouth of children less than two-years-old.

Estimation of fever by touch is not accurate because babies can actually be warm because of excessive layers of clothes. Therefore, the best way to be sure is to take the baby's temperature.

Parents should consult a pediatrician immediately if the baby is less than three- months-old and is not feeding well. Older infants and children should also be examined by a pediatrician immediately if there is decreased feeding, a rash, abnormal movements noted, vomiting and the presence of headache in young children.

If you think your baby has a fever, the first thing you should do until you see a pediatrician is remove excessive clothing and wraps and check the temperature again. You may find this reduces the temperature. Another useful tip is to place wet towels over the baby's head. Avoid giving infants less than three-months-old paracetamol until they are seen by a pediatrician.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:May 4, 2011
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