How Dangerous Are Fevers in Toddlers & Infants?


Young Girl Holding a Thermometer While Laying in Bed

Fevers are very concerning to new parents, especially when an infant’s or toddler’s body temperatures begin to rise dramatically. Most doctors classify a fever as being an oral temperature of 99.6 degrees or a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees. However, many parents mistakenly believe that fevers harm their children. But in fact, fevers are often harmless and even beneficial.

The purpose of this article is to discuss whether fevers are particularly dangerous in infants and toddlers and how they can actually be beneficial to a child’s body. It will also highlight dangerous temperatures for toddlers and infants and steps for action if that occurs.

Benefits of Fevers in Young Children

Fever is the body’s natural way of controlling temperature, and a temporarily higher temperature can result from chemicals in the body, the production of antibodies and macrophages, or the release of bacteria. However, low and moderate fevers can actually help a child’s body destroy microbial invaders and stimulate inflammatory responses. Essentially, fevers activate the body’s immune system and help the body fight infection. Normal fevers are between 100 degrees and 104 degrees and are actually beneficial for sick children.

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Risks of Fevers & High Temperatures

However, a temperature over 104 degrees may pose risks for an infant or be a more dangerous temperature for toddlers. But it is a myth that temperatures at this level cause brain damage. In fact, only very rare temperatures that reach approximately 108 degrees cause brain damage and would be classified as dangerous temperatures for toddlers. This can happen if a child is left alone in a car on a hot summer day, for example.

Only about 4 percent of children experience seizures that are triggered by fever; however, these types of seizures rarely cause permanent harm. They are certainly difficult for parents to watch, but typically last only a few minutes and do not result in learning problems later in life.

Understanding Dangerous Temperatures for Toddlers & Infants

Although fevers do benefit sick children’s bodies, parents shouldn’t ignore them or encourage them to raise higher. Fevers typically begin to cause discomfort at around the 102 or 103-degree range, and this is when treatment is beneficial. PediaCare’s fever reducers for kids help to regulate the symptoms of fevers by alleviating pain and controlling temperatures. Over-the-counter options are available for babies as young as six month upon consultation with a pediatrician. With treatment, fevers typically come down two or three degrees, but they may not fully return to normal for a while longer. A few degrees can make a huge difference in how a child feels, however.

Just because a thermometer says that a child’s temperature is high doesn’t mean that the cause is very serious. How a child looks and feels is much more important than the number on a thermometer. Parents should remember that a child’s normal body temperature will fluctuate throughout the day and that a normal temperature is can reach up to 100 degrees and still not be considered a low-grade fever.

Fever is a powerful tool and natural response of a child’s body to fight the infection that is making the child sick in the first place. But if a child’s temperature reaches 105 degrees, it is time to call a doctor. For babies younger than two months, immediate medical attention is recommended for lower temperatures if the child is crying inconsolably or has a convulsion, skin discoloration, or difficulty breathing.

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