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Fever in Children

Fever in Children Overview

Fever remains the most common concern prompting parents to present their child to the emergency department. Fever has traditionally been defined as a rectal temperature over 100.4 F or 38 C. Temperatures measured at other body sites are usually lower. The threshold for defining a fever does vary significantly among different individuals, since body temperatures can vary by as much as 1 F. Low-grade fevers are usually considered less than 102.2 F (39 C).

Fever itself is not life-threatening unless it is extremely and persistently high, such as greater than 107 F (41.6 C) when measured rectally. Risk factors for worrisome fevers include age under 2 years (infants and toddlers) or recurrent fevers lasting more than one week. Fever may indicate the presence of a serious illness, but usually a fever is caused by a common infection, most of which are not serious. The part of the brain called the hypothalamus controls body temperature. The hypothalamus increases the body's temperature as a way to fight the infection. However, many conditions other than infections may cause a fever.

Fever in Children Causes

Causes of fever include

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/22/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Fever in the Young Infant »

This article addresses the often-challenging task of diagnosing and treating febrile illnesses in infants younger than 60 days and discusses appropriate testing, treatment, and disposition of these patients.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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