Understanding Fever in Children: A Pediatrician’s Guide

As parents, it’s natural to worry when our children develop a fever. Fever is not an illness in itself, but rather a symptom indicating that the body is fighting an infection. As a pediatrician, I often encounter concerns and questions from parents about fever. Let’s cover what fever means, when to be concerned, and how to manage it.

What is fever?

Fever is the body’s natural response to an infection. It’s characterized by an elevation in body temperature above the normal range, which is around 98.6° F (37° C) when measured orally. In children, fever is generally considered when their temperature exceeds 100.4° F (37° C) rectally.

When to be Concerned

Fever itself is not usually a cause for alarm. However, certain circumstances warrant medical attention:

  • Age: In infants younger than three months, even a slight increase in temperature can be significant. Contact your pediatrician immediately if your newborn has a fever.
  • Duration: If the fever lasts more than a few days or is persistent despite home treatments, consult your pediatrician.
  • High Fever: High fever accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, difficulty breathing, or a rash could indicate a more serious condition.
  • Dehydration: Watch for signs of dehydration in a child with fever, such as dry mouth, decreased urine output, or excessive fussiness.

Managing Fever at Home

Most fevers in children are harmless and resolve on their own. However, here are some steps you can take at home to help your child feel more comfortable:

  • Fluids: Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids like water, diluted fruit juices, or oral rehydration solutions. If they will not voluntarily drink these, you can also offer them liquids with a medicine syringe. Offering 5mL of oral rehydration solution such a Pedialyte every 10 minutes for an hour will deliver approximately one ounce.
  • Rest: Ensure your child gets adequate rest to help their body recover. Often children sleep more when they are febrile. If your child seems extra sleepy, check their temperature to see if they are running a fever that needs to be treated.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter fever reducers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) can help lower fever and ease discomfort. It is important to remember that ibuprofen is not indicated for children under 6 months of age. Always follow the recommended dosage for your child’s age and weight. Most of the time, the dosage will be different for your child’s age versus their weight. Following the manufacturer’s guidance for weight-based dosage will give your child the most appropriate response from the medication.

When to Call Your Pediatrician

It is crucial to contact your pediatrician if:

  • Your child is under three months old and has a fever.
  • The fever is high and not responding to the medication.
  • Your child is unusually drowsy, irritable, or has difficulty breathing.
  • You’re concerned about your child’s condition.

Remember, fever is the body’s defense mechanism. It’s often a sign that the immune system is actively fighting an infection. Trust your instincts as a parent and seek medical advice when in doubt. I am a mom and have acted on my instinct many times. I also tent to listen to parents when they have that gut feeling. That is what we are here for.

In Conclusion

Fevers are common occurrences in childhood and are usually a sign that the body is combating an infection. While they can be concerning, especially for parents, most fevers are harmless and resolve on their own. Trust your parental instincts, and don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions about your child’s fever.

Resources

Mid City Pediatrics website offers a Symptom Checker function on our website to help assist parents. We also offer Medication and Dosing Charts.

The doctors at Mid City Pediatrics are here to help you. We see sick patients six days a week and have a doctor on call after hours to assist in emergency situations. Click to schedule your Fast Lane walk-in appointment.  You may also call our office at (318)221-2225 to schedule an appointment with your child’s regular physician.

5 Weird Newborn Symptoms That Are Perfectly Normal

As a pediatrician, I frequently encounter new parents who are understandibly concerned by the seemingly “weird” behaviors of their newborns. It’s completely natural; after all, infants do some pretty perculiar things! I use the term “weird” in quotes because what might appear as “weird” to parents is often perfectly normal in the world of newborn behavior. Let me shed some light on some of these behaviors to help put your mind at ease.

  1. Startle Reflex: Ever noticed your baby suddenly jerking their arms outwards as if they’ve been startled? That is called the Moro reflex. Some babies exhibit this reflex more prominently than others. It’s a normal response to stimuli and typically fades away by the time your baby is 3 or 4 months old.
  2. Hiccups: Rhythmic, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm can occur multiple times a day in a newborn. Yes, multiple! While it might seem alarming, hiccups are harmless. You may even remember feeling your baby have hiccups while you were pregnant. They tend to decrease in frequency as the baby’s digestive system matures and they grow.
  3. Crossed Eyes: Observing your baby’s eyes occasionally crossing might raise concerns about their vision. However, newborns often have underveloped eye muscles, causing their eyes to appear misaligned. This is normal as their vision continues to develop over the first few months of life. There is no need for concern, as this condition usually corrects itself around 3 to 4 months of age.  
  4. Strange Noises: Grunts, snorts, and other peculiar sounds that your baby makes, especially during sleep are surprisingly normal. The adage “sleeping like a baby” is not necessarily true because babies are actually restless sleepers. As long as your baby is breathing comfortably and showing no signs of distress, these noises are typically harmless.
  5. Sneezing: Newborns sneeze frequently, which is usually their way of clearing their nasal passages of dust, mucus, or any other irritants. They can’t blow their noses like we can, so sneezing is the most efficient way for them to clear their nasal passages. Pretty smart, huh?

Remember, every baby is unique. While these behaviors are common, if you ever feel concerned about your baby’s actions or notice sudden changes in behavior, it’s always best to consult your pediatrician. As a rule of thumb, if your baby is eating, sleeping, and growing well, the behaviors listed above are usually just part of their normal development.

Parenthood is a wonderful journey filled with surprises. As a pediatrician, I find that understanding these quirks can bring comfort to parents, reassuring them that their baby’s “weird” behaviors are just a normal part of early development. Hopefully, this will help a few parents rest more easily when frantically searching for answers in the middle of the night.

We welcome you to visit us at Mid City Pediatrics. We see children for same-day sick visits 6 days a week. Appointments may be scheduled online. Please click here to schedule an appointment or call us at (318) 221-2225

What Is RSV?

RSV: Understanding Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory illness that affects people of all ages, but it can be particularly severe in infants and young children. RSV tends to be a seasonal virus, with infections peaking at certain times throughout the year. A typical RSV seasons runs from the Fall to the Spring months.  Especially in the winter months, it is essential for parents to be aware of this virus, its symptoms, preventative measures, and the recent developments regarding an RSV vaccine.

Understanding RSV

RSV is a highly contagious virus that primarily affects the respiratory system. It can lead to mild cold-like symptoms in older children and adults, but in infants and toddlers, especially those under six months old, it can cause more severe complications such as bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia. Premature infants, children with weakened immune systems, and those with certain heart or lung conditions are at higher risk of severe RSV infection.

Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age in the United States. Each year, RSV leads to numerous hospitalizations, particularly among infants. Ultimately, 2-3 out of every 100 babies with RSV may need to be hospitalized.

The New RSV Vaccine

Beyfortus is a monoclonal antibody vaccine that received approval in July of 2023. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that imitate our body’s natural ability to offer protection against severe RSV infection in young children. It is now available for neonates and infants born during their first RSV season as well as other children up to 24 months of age who remain vulnerable to severe RSV upon entering their second RSV season. Mid City Pediatrics provides Beyfortus to our patients. Please contact our office to confirm vaccine avaibility.

Things to Look for and When to Call the Pediatrician

Parents should watch for potential signs of RSV infection in their children, such as:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or irritability
  • Refusal to feed or decreased fluid intake

If you child exhibits any of these symptoms, especially if they’re under six months old or have other risk factors, it’s essential to contact your pediatrician. Early detection and medical intervention can significantly impact the outcome of RSV infections.

Prevention Tips:

Whild there’s no specific treatment for RSV, several preventative measures can reduce the risk of infection:

  • Frequent handwashing: Encourage everyone in the household to wash their hands regularly, especially before handling the baby.
  • Limit exposure: Try to avoid close contact between young infants and individuals showing signs of respiratory illness.
  • Keep surfaces clean: Regularly disinfect surfaces and toys that children frequently touch.
  • Practice good hygiene: Cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid sharing cups and utensils.
  • RSV vaccine: If your infant is eligible for Beyfortus, get your child vaccinated to help prevent serious RSV infection.

In Conclusion

RSV can pose a serious threat to young children, particularly infants. Understanding the signs and symptoms, staying informed about availability of vaccines, and implementing preventative measures are essential in protecting children from severe RSV infections. Always consult your pediatrician for personalize guidance and recommendations regarding your child’s health.

We welcome you to visit us at Mid City Pediatrics. We see children for same-day sick visits 6 days a week. Appointments may be scheduled online. Please click here to schedule an appointment or call us at (318) 221-2225

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Shreveport, LA 71104

Phone: (318) 221-2225
Fax: (318) 459-2955

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