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Understanding fever in babies

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Fever in babies can alarm parents Fever in babies can alarm parents

Fever can be defined as 'an elevation of body temperature above the normal daily variation'.1 It is a normal physiological response of the body to a variety of conditions and occurs most commonly due to an infection. It is an immunological defense mechanism of the body which helps to fight infections and in itself is not harmful. Fever causes significant anxiety among parents and health professionals due to the uncertainties associated with it and an expectation that it must be returned to normal fast. The feeling of helplessness among parents is enhanced if the child is a neonate (ie in the first 28 days of life) or infant.

'Fever phobia' can result in frequent use of antipyretic medicines, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, with the sole aim of controlling the fever - a practice often reinforced by health professionals.2 Overuse of antipyretics by parents is made possible as these are easily available over the counter in many shops. This can prove harmful in some cases where the same pharmacological agent with different brand names might be used simultaneously by mistake.

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