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Pediatric  Dental  Health

June 1, 2002

Fever is the most common reason why parents seek medical care for a child. Fever is a symptom that consistently causes alarm in parents. Far from being an enemy, however, fever is an important part of the body’s defense against infection.

Fever indicates that something is wrong with a child. Fever activates the body’s immune system, which speeds-up the production of antibodies, white blood cells, and other infection-fighting agents.

Myths and misconceptions about fever still abound. The fact is that fever does not necessarily need to be treated. For example: if a child is playful, comfortable, able to sleep, and drinking plenty of fluids, then medical treatment is not likely to be needed. On the other hand, steps should be taken to decrease fever in a child who is uncomfortable, dehydrated, vomiting, of having difficulty sleeping.

During the first two years of life, children experience an average of five acute fevers, with medical care being sought for two thirds of these. An occult (obscure cause) life-threatening illness occurs in approximately 1% of children who present to an acute care setting with fever.