Few things worry mums more than their baby hav­ing a high tem­per­a­ture. Set your mind at ease by learn­ing what’s nor­mal and what to do when your lit­tle one is un­well

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Every­thing you need to treat fevers, colds and flus

At two o’clock in the morn­ing, you lean over your sleep­ing baby’s cot and touch his tiny fore­head. It’s burn­ing hot and his cheeks are flushed pink. But there’s no need for you to fret when your baby’s tem­per­a­ture rises above nor­mal, not when you’re armed with the knowl­edge that will let you han­dle the sit­u­a­tion ef­fec­tively.

Con­sul­tant pae­di­a­tri­cian and neona­tol­o­gist Dr Elia Maalouf, who spe­cialises in fever treat­ment, says a child’s body is work­ing all the time to main­tain its op­ti­mum core tem­per­a­ture, which all his or­gans need to func­tion. “When we take a baby’s tem­per­a­ture, we’re re­ally mea­sur­ing the core tem­per­a­ture of his body rather than that of the sur­face of his skin,” he says. “In or­der for a body to func­tion ef­fec­tively, that tem­per­a­ture must be within the nor­mal range of 36.5 to 37.5 de­grees.”

There is a range within ‘nor­mal’ tem­per­a­ture be­cause our bod­ies have to re­spond to ex­ter­nal tem­per­a­tures. For ex­am­ple, in a heat­wave our bod­ies will cool slightly within the nor­mal range, to ad­just. Al­ter­na­tively, on a cold day they will warm up to­wards the top end of that range. “Sweat­ing and shiver­ing are your body’s meth­ods of cool­ing or rais­ing its tem­per­a­ture to stay within this range,” ex­plains Elia.

Fac­tors that contribute to a raised tem­per­a­ture

Some­times the body needs to adapt its tem­per­a­ture be­cause of in­ter­nal fac­tors rather than ex­ter­nal ones. “In­fec­tions are the most common rea­son your child will get a tem­per­a­ture,” says Elia.

When your lit­tle one has an in­fec­tion, his body mounts an in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse against it. Blood cir­cu­la­tion in­creases around the in­fected area, car­ry­ing the an­ti­bod­ies needed to fight it. This causes

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